My Date With Austin And Sam-Genteel.

Hello good people.
Meet Austin and Sam, two of the four creative and brilliant young men behind Genteel.
Genteel is a Kenyan creative brand that brings a fresh look into men’s dressing.  They are the Kenyan custodians of the bespoke trade and they strongly believe that one’s personality should be exposed in the mode of dressing.  

Sam is a reserved, simple and a creative dapper man. He loves life, culture, colour, travelling and to be around a small circle of people, who can have very deep and constructive conversations.
As a graduate in Bachelor of Business Information Technology (BBIT) from Strathmore University,  He believes IT is not a career but an enabler. To him, Information technology is a tool, that helps you to do whatever it is you wish to accomplish. 
“There is no industry that does not utilize IT, be it fashion, business or engineering”, he mentions.  He was brought up in Eastlands and he loved to dress stylishly. He would shop for his clothes at Gikomba market and with time, people started admiring the way he dressed and they would seek his advice on dressing and sometimes they would request to buy clothes from him. 
Gikomba being 3 kilometres away from his home, he would walk there and select an array of clothes to sell, and gradually, he entered the fashion industry.  

Austin is also an outgoing dapper man. He loves to travel, colours, art and dressing up. Colour and art has been his speciality at Genteel. 
He has a Bachelor of Business Information Technology Degree from Strathmore University.  He begun dressing up in his first year in Campus and his classmates would admire his outfits. Most were the times, he would resort to selling the clothes he wore due to demand and persistent requests from friends. You may say, he was a walking display. 

Who is Genteel and how did it come to be?
Genteel is a French word meaning well mannered, chivalrous and refined. We sat down and decided to come up with a name that not only speaks of a gentleman but also well mannered. 
I (Sam) met one of the other partners, Brian, and we launched the brand an year ago.  To us, we failed to understand why we should import clothes while we could exploit the local craftsmanship and skills. 
As I had mentioned earlier, I believe I have a certain level of creativity and I love to express it through hands on participation in the process of making a garment. 
We did research on the industry for about a year and we got to reach out to different kinds of people, got to understand the market and gained skills on craftsmanship. 
At some point point we felt confident enough to come up with a capsule collection and we trended on Instagram for 2-3 days. 
That’s how Genteel was born and we got our first client 3 months afterwards. Austin, was a friend and a classmate and we made a proposal for him to join us, he also does marketing for us.

We have several fashion brands, what makes Genteel different and unique?
We believe in colour, culture and content. With these three pillars, we have created an ensemble.
We believe in colour and a gentleman should express what he feels. What happens with most brands is, the creative director sits down and comes up with a list of styles that conform to trends.
But, as Genteel, what we do is, talk to the customers and understand who they are and then create a garment that brings out their individual style. 
These individual styles are shown in the uniqueness of the garment and the linings of the suits.

Meaning you get your inspiration from what the customers want?
That is very correct and we also get inspiration from ourselves. We are a lifestyle brand and we love to travel (recently visited Paris). From our love for travelling and art, we easily come across interesting styles, giving us the ability to advise our clients on what is out there.

In five years’ time, where do you see Genteel?
We want to be a brand that Kenyans can resonate with, not only for our ability to make suits, but also, for our creative ability. 
We tend to believe that there is a lot of replication in the industry. People have left out the fact that we have a rich cultural diversity in Kenya among the 42 tribes. 
When you go to the AKamba; they love colour. Agikuyu, love mild colours while Dholuos, love very eccentric and flamboyant colors. We envision that in the next 2 to 3 years people will resonate with Genteel as a Kenyan brand that tells the globe who Kenyans really are.

Who do you look up to as Genteel?
We look up to Ralph Lauren, for their sheer elegance and timeless style. We also admire Gieves & Hawkes for their rich heritage and craftsmanship. 

Men are trying to up their game when it comes to fashion styles. But, we still find some men wearing tight or over-sized suits and the button issue. What fashion advice can you give to men and how should they wear a suit, patterns and colours?
-the suit should meet the sleeves at the shoulder bone.
-the sleeves should be long enough and leave some space for the shirt to show and give room for the watch and other accessories.
-the coat should be long up to the middle of the pant’s zip and be fitting enough.
-the pants should be long enough to cover the ankle but be slightly above the shoelace.
-crotch should not be tight, as this would disrupt aeration.
At Genteel, we take 5-6 weeks to make a suit. The problem of ill fitting suits arise, when designers fail to invest enough time in creating a garment. It is also good for a person to undertsand their personality, style and physical features.
When it comes to colour we do not restrict, but we ensure the fabric is good, looks nice and its official. The colours should complement each other. 

The Kenyan fashion industry is still very young but rising and men are still trying to find their way compared to women. As a Kenyan men clothes brand what challenges do you face and how do you deal with them?
You can imagine people’s reaction when we tell them our suit cost’s Ksh. 25,000 and above. This makes it hard for most men to accept our brand. But, We justify the price by making quality suits. Also, getting the target market of 27 years and above requires a certain level of maturity, as we are relatively young.

Who are your ideal clients, do you have personalities that you dream of dressing?
We would love to dress Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mostly, we target people who are above 25/27 years of age. What we do is an investment hence when you buy the suit, it should complement your body, personality and be long lasting.

Couture Africa labelled you as the designer to watch. How was that experience?
It was exciting and good to be featured by a leading magazine in East Africa.

If a suit takes 5-6 weeks to make, what procedures do you follow from the point you meet the client to delivery of the garment?
Firstly, we have an initial appointment with the client, we get to understand who he is and what he does and the purpose of the suit.
Secondly, the client selects a fabric from the varieties we have.

Thirdly, we take him through a list of linings and he gives us the go ahead to begin working on the garmet.

Fourthly, after 2 to 3 weeks, we meet him again for fitting to get to know if the suit fits.

Lastly, we take back the suit for readjustments and fine touches. After 3 more weeks, we call the client to assess the final product. If the suit is okay, we now press and deliver. 

What is your take on the current fashion industry in Kenya and because you travel a lot, how can you compare our style with the rest of the world out there? 
Our fashion industry is rising. People are discovering their style, they are concentrating more on the need to impress and the middle class is rising and it has a high population of youths.
 Compared to the rest of the world, we are years behind. English suit makers for example have been in existence since 1800s. However, we have some benefit from this, we are learning from the mistakes others made years back.  We learn from them and we apply that on our own brand as we try to make it a dynasty. 

Give us your last words, fashion tips and accessorising.
Keep it simple.
Let the suit and accessories complement each other.
Enjoy the process.