KONA: Africa In Love With India
Anyone who knows me, knows about my obsession with everything Indian. I’m pretty sure it can be traced back to all those Sunday mornings watching Bollywood movies on UTV which featured, basically, all of my favourite things. Fights, dancing and singing in unison, dance moves you could learn easily that you could practice in front of the tv and, mostly, my absolute favourite thing: ALL the colours.
Walking into Kona is like walking into a space my childhood dreamed up married with my adult fashion sensibilities (which lean heavily towards locally made garments with a touch of kitenge).
I say, “walking in to Kona”, because the brand now has it’s own store on Plot 43, Bukoto Street and they were kind enough to have The Pearl Guide over to check it out. When I found out that the brand responsible for the beautiful accessories I’d been seeing in Bold Kampala and on the runway of last year’s Kampala Fashion Week had its own location, I had to go see it for myself. I was not disappointed.
Kona is the kind of store you really have to take your time browsing and luckily, they strongly encourage it.
With a large variety of all kinds of products, you will need to take the time to appreciate each one. On the balcony of the store is a wrap-around bench where you can have a drink in between browses, or chat with one of the lovely women working there who are all very pleased to share the story of the beautiful creations. All of which are a delightful blend of Indian and African fashion not compromising beauty or quality.
The store itself is really fun to be in. An incredible wall feature is the first thing on the back wall, with moveable shelves and squares inlaid with kitenge. The shelves lining the walls are filled with a colourful assortment of products ranging from bags and shoes to jewelry and apparel to home accessories.
Indian women’s slippers with kitenge soles, big square pillows covered in earth-toned, gold-leaf printed kitenge, Masaai suka clutches. There’s one necklace that can be worn three ways. The list goes on.
Carefully selected laces, cottons, and kitenge make up most of the fabric while innovative paper bead designs, intricately crafted cow horn and leather are some of what make up the accessories. You might have seen some of the beautiful pieces (cuffs and bracelets made from cow horn paired with hard-case, flat bottomed handbags) adorning the models wearing Kwesh at Kampala Fashion Week.
Kona’s inclusion in Kampala Fashion Week is the first indication that this is not just another store. Work is produced in cycles that when studied can tell you the story of the evolution of the brand. New collections and fashion lines are released and the old designs are updated or completely changed to reflect the brand’s sensibilities in keeping with market trends, local materials and, always, the marriage of two fashion cultures.
I was careful not to give my excitement away too much (impartial reviewer and what not) but the little Bollywood fangirl in me will definitely drive me back to this store with every new collection. You know I have to be ready when that group dance number comes on, which any Bollywood fan knows, could be any time. JAI HO!
Photography: Julius Caesar Kasujja
You can find The Kona at:
Plot 43 Bukoto Street, Kamwokya
Tel: 039 3266362