The Bata Designers Apprentice came to an end with the Grand Finale, hosted by Angela Muiruri, which took place on Friday 26th January at the Bata flagship store in Nairobi.
The initiative enlisted student and emerging designers in Kenya to create footwear for Bata through a designers’ competition, while gaining experience at one of the biggest footwear manufacturers in East Africa.
Cynthia Allela was announced as the winner, receiving the main prize of 50,000KSh, as well as the opportunity to have her design introduced into production by Bata Kenya. She was congratulated on stage by Dr Lilac Osanjo (University of Nairobi) and Professor Odoch Pido (Technical University of Kenya) and received the award from Alberto Errico and Esther Kute of Bata Kenya.
Cynthia’s designs feature a unique system, allowing for interchangeable covers on the upper and a zipper on the side to complete the look and functionality. The idea behind this system is to create a more sustainable solution, whereby the soles could be replaced and the uppers could be kept to increase customisation options.
Ian Abraham came in as runner up, receiving a cheque of 30,000KSh for his efforts in the contest. His bold, progressive redesign of the Safari boot wooed the audience and is sure to inspire thoughts for the classic boot’s future.
The creativity and presentation of work from both runners up ensured that the judges had a tough decision to make. Moraa Nyabame was inspired by cacti to design an eco-friendly platform shoe and a leather shoe with pink accents, while Steve Thairu uniquely chose to design a gum boot with African print, which we could imagine standing out while splashing its way through Nairobi puddles. He also created an open shoe, inspired by the need for feet to breathe.
On display was work from the previous challenges. The massively popular selection of custom shoes for blogger Sharon Mwangi gave us a close up look at the four hand painted designs that the designers had created.
This is the final part of our feature on Bata Kenya Designers Apprentice. You can find the other parts below.