May 21, 2022 - By AnumitaBagchi
Fashion Designer David spreads the love with Marco and Erica
This bright and bubbly episode of Between 2 Italians sees Marco and Erica in conversation with the enigmatic David Avido Ochieng. We are off to an excellent start as our hosts are dressed in some gorgeously bold patterns, fitting for an interview with a fashion designer! Live from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, David joins in with Marco and Erica’s spirited performance of Waka Waka by Shakira- it’s always nice to have some extra voices!
David is clear from the beginning- he was born to a single mother and raised in the Kibera community- the biggest urban slum in Africa. His career has been off in all sorts of directions; having started out as a dancer, David then became a construction worker- two different uses of his body for sure! He explains that he is the eldest sibling, and has always been keen to set a good example to his younger brothers and sister, certainly an admirable goal. While he places a lot of importance on looking out for his family, when Marco asks about his inspiration, David explains that most of it comes from the things around him, and meditating on life.
While Marco likes to think that David got into fashion after being horrified by the style of others, David clarifies that this is not the case- as a school-dropout, he struggled to find many jobs, but learned to design and make clothes while working on costumes for his dance crew! While he’s only been in the fashion industry for a few years, David doesn’t make clothes just for the sake of it. He always wants to tell a story through the fabric and garments, and he takes lots of inspiration from his love of dance. More than anything, he wants to prove that amazing things can come out of the slums, even though many people there lack opportunities. Having experienced the stereotypes and prejudices that people hold against his community, he is doing a lot to show that beauty can come from where it is least expected!
David is doing incredible work in making masks and distributing them for free, to keep people safe. So far he has made and donated over 12,000 masks, with the help of his team- what an inspiring thing to do! Marco and Erica of course praise David’s generosity, but also the beauty of his clothing and accessories. David draws on the places around him and projects those ideas onto his materials. You can see this from the bright and earthy tones in what he makes, which are all around in the Kenyan terrain.
Marco and Erica talk for a while about family with David, how proud his mother is of him, and how one of his brothers is even better at sewing than him! David tells Marco that he’s focussing on his work right now, not on finding a relationship. This is clearly paying off however as he has received a Presidential Honour for his work getting masks to everyone! David was of course very happy to receive this, but he also commends the hard work of his team that has helped him to reach this point.
The Kibera slum has had a particularly difficult time during lockdown. From difficulty with working from home due to lack of internet access to being unable to afford masks, David explains that things are really hard over there. The community rallies together in every way that it can, though, and David helps out however he can. He’s currently working on creating more job opportunities for the people around him, as well as generally sharing love with those he cares for. To find out more about this amazing man, his inspiring story and beautiful clothing line, make sure you watch the full episode- you will even get to see him bust a few dance moves!