Jamil Walji, Founder and Creative Director of JW Couture, shares his insights into the couture bridal gown industry in East Africa. Jamil Walji was recently listed on the Top East African Designers to Watch and just returned from representing Kenya at Mozambique Fashion Week.
When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
Since high school I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer. I recognized my potential in fashion because I had a lot of creativity when it came to fine arts. I always loved making and drawing fashion designs.
What inspired you to start a couture bridal collection?
The concept of starting a couture bridal line came to me as I noticed the gap for this market in Kenya. No one was doing couture bridal here in Nairobi. Since it would be made to measure and bride specific, I thought it would be an exciting opportunity to utilize my skill-set to help my client achieve her dream wedding. I loved the idea of being a part of her big day to help develop a spectacular gown that she always dreamt of wearing on her big day!
Brides can be a challenging consumer group; what do you love the most and least about working with brides?
I love working one-on-one with brides to develop the ultimate gown. Working together provides time to see the idea come to life as well as the flexibility to make changes as needed. It’s a wonderful journey to see a gown transition from idea to final product. The best part is seeing the bride walk down the aisle after weeks of hard work; the end product always brings me to express tears of joy. The challenge is when an insisting bride pushes for a style that does not fit her body shape or if the raw materials for the inspiration are not available locally. Through these challenges I am able to be even more creative in developing new design elements and communicating to the bride what looks best on her. Typically, through test fits and exploring additional silhouettes we can agree on the most flattering gown.
What has been your proudest moment since you started JW Couture?
I have experienced many proud moments in my fashion career, especially when I have the opportunity to represent my country on international fashion platforms. But ultimately, my most unforgettable moments are seeing my brides walking down the aisle in JW Couture gowns.
Keep an eye out for future development from JW Couture with the contact information below:
Facebook: Jamil Walji Couture
Aprelle Duany describes herself as a nerd who adores fashion.
After years of climbing the corporate ladder, Duany became detached from calculating billable hours and chasing corporate clients. She longed to reconnect with her creative gifts. Upon graduating as Summa Cum Laude at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Duany was excited about the opportunities that lay ahead of her, designing at top fashion houses. Little did she know her life would take a drastic turn.
That same year, she married her college sweetheart, Kueth Duany. Longing to help redevelop his home country, the two journeyed nearly 7,000 miles from NYC to the newest country on Earth, South Sudan. Landing in South Sudan was a shock! Transitioning from the 24/7 life of NYC to a place with no electricity, no plumbing, and no roads was unimaginable.
Although the challenge of a lifetime, Duany began to uncover the mystery of this new world. Her discovery was a result of appreciating the simplicities of life. Eventually, she realized the beauty which became the inspiration to create a luxury lifestyle brand, APRELLEDUANY, that would offer others exclusive access to the true African experience.
She currently resides in Nairobi, Kenya with her husband and two daughters. Duany loves to write about fashion, accessories, luxury brands, IT, travel, and the beauty of Africa.
Favorite quote: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Thoreau