The untold story of designer Avido: Kibra's self-made designer

Ochieng with Vee Money [Photo: Courtesy]

David Ochieng is a self-made street fashion designer. The 23-year-old who was born and raised in
Kibra slums says passion never fails.

What does Avido stand for?

My name is David Ochieng but I’m also known as Avido.

How was it like growing up in the slums?

I come from a humble background and we could hardly afford a meal a day. I went to Mbagathi Primary School and Raila Education Centre but dropped out in Form Two due to lack of school fees.

My mum was a house help and I tried kazi ya mjengo in Lang’ata to support my family but gave in because of my chest problems.

While I was busy cleaning houses in the neighbourhood to support my family, I started a dance crew with my friends.

We danced and I was able to save money which took me back to school. My mum and I were able to raise Sh15,000 which I used to enrol for KCSE exams. Having dropped out in Form Two in the first term, I skipped Form Two and Form Three and sat for the exams. 

When did you start Lookslike Avido fashion line?

In 2015. I would design costumes for my dance crew but tailors were always a disappointment. And there was my inspiration to acquire skills in fashion and design and do it myself.

I managed to join Maisha Foundation who helped me to enrol at Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts for a certificate course in fashion design. One year later, graduated at the top of my class.

Your designs are unique. How much do they cost?

It all depends on design, fabric cost and creativity.

What is the highlight of being a BLAZE BYOB mentor?

I consider the opportunity a teaching and learning ground. As I inspire my mentees, I also learn  a lot from them.

Who have you dressed - locally and internationally?

Vanessa Mdee, Cecile, Hon Ken Okoth, Christopher Martin, Ty Dolla sign, Chronixx, Don Carlos, Kellisa, Sparkie, Connie Nielsen, Octopizzo, Big Ted, Naiboi, Bank slave, Talia Oyando, Nasty C and many more.

Is it difficult to work with celebs?

They come in different shapes and sizes depending on what you agree on.

Any highlights of your career so far?

Proving to the world that Kibra can produce good things. The slum is a source of good quality clothes worn worldwide.

If you were not a fashion designer, what would you be?

A performing artiste, recording reggae and dance hall music.

Do you have a fashion pet peeve?

Yes. I don’t understand people who compare the cost of mtumba clothes with designed and handcrafted clothes. It does not make sense at all.

Where can someone find you?

I’m reachable online on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and on my website: www.lookslikeavido.com

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