Kenyan Style: A Conversation with Velma and Papa of 2ManySiblings
2ManySiblings, Velma Rossa and Papa Petit, are a brother and sister duo from Kenya with a flare for fusing innovative street photography and African fashions to capture their personal style. A Country Called Earth spoke with the 2ManySiblings below:
What inspired you to begin your blog? Whose idea was it?
Velma Rossa: Well, my brother is a thinker [a bit mysterious sometimes] so naturally, he birthed the concept of having a space dedicated to documenting how we live in our clothes in harmony with the African environment/youth subcultures. I translate and bring those visions to life…so more like the art direction of things.
Papa Petit: 2ManySiblings is a passion project. A project that also aims to show the aesthetics of different African photographers we collaborate with — they all have a unique approach to their photography.
You’ve billed yourselves as “creative disruptors.” In what ways are you disruptive?
VR: Disrupting the thought processes of what is stereotypically expected to visually come out of Africa.
It’s about adding to the positive thread of our continent creatively through images. Rebranding Africa, the Africa that is now. It’s also about encouraging people to see us in a more contemporary and inspiriting light.
What is the art and fashion scene like in Nairobi? Do you feel it’s adequately represented internationally, seeing how you’ve spent time in Johannesburg and Melbourne?
PP: I would say there is almost a re-discovery happening in the creative scene in Nairobi, a new wave of young, talented and enthusiastic individuals keen on fashion, photography and the fine arts in general.
In art, we are inspired by the quirks of Cyrus Kabiru, a brilliant doer who is representing Kenya very well globally. More incredible spaces are coming up around town that lend to the support of the fine arts. These platforms have encouraged more innovation and creativity, and provided easier access to art.
VR: As to the fashion conversation, we are not quite there yet internationally. The talent here is phenomenal and there is so much great potential, but I feel that we need get to a point where local design labels must have a ‘to die for’ factor to generate enough revenue for expansion and then have a strong footprint internationally.
PP: That we stop the bloat of the Milan, New York and London fashion stories, and create our own continental fashion power centre that suits our seasons and our various fashion personalities.
VR: Luxury womenswear designer Katungulu Mwendwa is making waves towards achieving this. She had a successful showing at the GenArt Fresh Faces show in New York Fashion Week sometime back.
What is your favorite texture?
PP: Denim. It’s timeless.
VR: Skin, because there are so many lovely interactions that involve skin!
Any plans for the future?
VR: That’s deep.
PP: I think what Velma means is that we have to learn to just do what the moment dictates, however, a concept clothing store is eventual.
Also, just continuing to be spirited. To disrupt some more!