When Cyprian Kiswili designed his yellow and black shoe, made from leather and textured suede, he did not think it would wow judges.
In Prague last week, he beat 10 finalists to win the Bata Young Designers challenge.
“I entered into the competition without thinking that I stood a chance of winning. I wanted to design a shoe that I am comfortable wearing,” he says.
The 24-year-old’s love for illustrations and Konza city inspired his shoe design.
“It has very many illustrations on it. It was my first time taking part in anything of such a magnitude as the Bata Fashion week,” says Cyprian, a Master’s degree in Art and Design student at University of Nairobi.
He joined the competition after being encouraged by his lecturers.
Bata, a footwear company was celebrating 125 years in the market and 80 years in Kenya started the competitions last September.
Cyprian was among the two Kenyan finalists who joined eight others selected from the US and Europe markets.
The designers came up with unisex shoes that tell stories of ‘evolution of style.’
Cyprian designed a shoe called ‘Blossom’, which he says he drew inspiration from the tropical savannah lands of Kenya, and specifically from Konza city.
He drew most of his inspiration from the cheerfulness and fullness contrast of the place.
“I chose hieroglyphs because I believe it has been a constant communicative style. For example, the Egyptians writing and symbols and all the way to our modern life of emoticons and emojis,” he says.
Kenya has no known shoe designers and with such competitions, there is opportunity to start highlighting young talent and for entrepreneurs to dream of coming up with sought-after footwear.
Cyprian’s ‘Blossom’ sneakers will be produced and sold in selected Bata stores worldwide.
He is now determined to continue in this new path since he will also be trained and work with Bata’s shoe designers.
“I will be going for a shoe production training courtesy of Bata that I know will expand my skills,” he said.
“I definitely look forward to starting my own shoe collection and maybe becoming the next Jimmy Choo of Kenya.”