The Bata Designers Apprentice initiative by Bata Kenya product development, which launched in September 2017 enlisted student and emerging designers in Kenya to be part of creating a classic shoe for Bata through a designer’s competition, while gaining experience at one of the biggest footwear manufacturer in East Africa.
The aim was to set up the four selected designers for success in the fashion industry by providing them with hands-on experience of the working processes in a fashion and retail brand: designing; product development; manufacture, retail and styling. They held a series of challenges with the designers working with Kenyan influencers, musicians, fashion bloggers, marketers and creatives. Videos and photos documented the challenges across Bata Kenya and the influencers’ social media pages.
Date & Venue: 8th November 2017, Bata Limuru Factory Outlet
Design apprentices were tasked with picking out shoes for members of award winning Kenyan boy band, Le Band at the factory outlet of Bata Kenya in Limuru. The objective of this challenge was to guide the designers on what it takes to sell a shoe at a Bata store. The designers had to select shoes that fit each band member’s personality and style and make a sale. By recommending shoes and learning various customer preferences, designers gained key insight about the commercial aspect of the fashion industry.
Date & Venue: 14th November 2017, Product Development freeze room in Bata Limuru
Creative juices got pumping for the design apprentices in this challenge as they were tasked with revamping White Ngoma shoes for Sharon Mwangi by painting a pair within just one hour, after which she selected the best customization that fit her personal style. Sharon Mwangi is fashion writer and blogger, well recognized in the Kenya fashion industry and her favorite Bata shoes are White Ngoma.
This challenge taught the designers how to add value through ‘Existing Product Development’ (EPD) to create a competitive edge. The designers also learned how to present their creative vision in a convincing and saleable way. This Ngoma challenge led to an inflow of photos and posts shared by loyal customers on social media of how they have customized Bata shoes, showing potential for future collaborations in customization.
Date & Venue: 5th December 2017, Product Development freeze room in Bata Limuru
This was a styling challenge. Being a good stylist by correctly identifying customer tastes is important if one aspires to succeed in the fashion industry. The Designers were tasked to create several looks for Brian Mbunde, one of the most influential Kenyans on Twitter, with his favorite brand of shoes from Bata, Tomy Takkies. We dubbed this Challenge “Tomy Swag for Every Style”. Tomy Takkies are a big hit in Kenya, especially with the urban youth.
Date & Venue: 17th January 2018, Product Development freeze room in Bata Limuru
A designer needs to be able to convince their team to be passionate about a project, or their customers to buy their products. This is best done by being able to write and use words in such a way that will convince them. In comes, Bikozulu, an award winning blogger, writer and journalist is one of the most descriptive, humorous writers we have in Kenya with a near cult following. He selected his favorite shoes from the new Bata Kenya Leather collection which the designers proceeded to write descriptions about. He critiqued their writing in a master class setting then provided pointers on how they can be illustrious writers.
It’s been a fun and engaging project for the past 5 months, the designers have learnt a lot more than just footwear design, we aimed to impact on them life skills too.
The Grand Finale is here, where the winning design & respective designer will be announced today (26th January 2018) at Bata Store Muindi Mbingu starting from 4pm Hosted by Angela Muiruri. The winning designer will walk away with 50,000 KES and the opportunity to have their winning design produced in a limited collection and stocked in select Bata Stores Countrywide.