Ann McCreath, Iona McCreath
Today led by mother-daughter design duo Ann and Iona McCreath, KikoRomeo, which means “Adam’s Apple” in Kiswahili, was founded in Nairobi in 1996 by Ann in an effort to stimulate local employment through trade, and shine a spotlight on the work of local artisans and traditional Kenyan craft. Today, the sustainable brand is largely credited with being a key player in the transformation of the Kenyan fashion industry, and has mentored many designers and artisans for over two decades. At the core of the brand is a mission to bring people from all walks of life together, with strikingly colorful silhouettes that embolden and inspire the wearer.
The label’s conversation pieces are crafted by local weavers and textile designers using natural fibres—including cotton, linen and silk. They draw inspiration from their surrounding artist community, with many pieces influenced by accidental merging of colors and mixed media that you might see in abstract paintings. Easily discernible in the brand’s signature cotton jumpsuit styles, the midweight cotton garments are painted and dyed by hand, their prints, shades, and cut creating a kind of wearable art. Attention to detail and an adoration of contemporary Kenyan culture and music can also be seen in each collection through details such as vibrant hand-painted graffiti motifs.
The brand was awarded the East African Designer of the Year award at the Swahili Fashion Awards in 2014, and in 2012, Ann McCreath, who is classically trained in Italian Alta Moda, was named as one of the “100 Women Changing Africa” by Arise Magazine. Ann is also the master orchestrator behind SITA’s (an African trade supporter initiative started by the UN’s International Trade Centre) Mitreeki Fashion Incubator Programme module, an educational platform that sees woman fashion designers from East Africa coming together to develop their business and marketing skills under the guidance of industry experts. Before joining her mother in the business, Iona graduated from London School of Economics in 2018 with a degree in Sociology, and holds a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design from Central St Martins. Shortlisted in 2020’s Arise 30 Under 30 competition, KikoRomeo continues to be an ever-evolving player in Kenya’s fashion landscape over two decades after its founding.
Swahili Fashion Awards, East African Designer of the Year, 2015
International Creativity Award Italy, Winner, 2010
Creativity for Peace Award, WOSWA (Women Students Welfare Association) Kenya, Winner, 2008