By Fab Mc
Abbas Kaijuka is a Ugandan fashion designer, stylist, and fashion collector known for his brand Kai’s Divo. He is a recipient of East Africa’s Male Fashion Designer of the Year award at the 2020 East Africa Fashion Awards and the Fashion Designer of the Year award at the 2016 Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards and received various nominations including the East African Designer of the year award at the 2017 Swahili Fashion Week. I had a chat with him and below is our conversation.
Fab Mc: Briefly introduce yourself to our readers
Kaijuka: I’m Abbas Kaijuka, a fashion designer and stylist, founder, and proprietor of Kai’s Divo Collection.
Fab Mc: Why did you decide to choose fashion designing as a career?
Kaijuka: This decision came almost naturally. I started as a stylist, I was hiring out suits and gowns. Then, it hit me that a number of my clients preferred custom looks, which required designing and tailoring. It started like that. To answer your question, the reason was that I wanted to offer my clients exactly what they needed.
Fab Mc: What according to you is a favorite part of being a fashion designer?
Kaijuka: Just like every creative business, seeing a customer melt with satisfaction during their fitting is a priceless feeling.
Fab Mc: What skills according to you are necessary for a successful fashion designer?
Kaijuka: Fashion designing has evolved. Before, you needed to at least have some tailoring or fabric manipulation skills to get ahead in your career. Then, the core became creativity. According to me, you need to be creative. You also need a lot of business skills; selling and marketing. You also need to be familiar with the tricks of the trade; sketching, fabric manipulation, draping, stitching, and all. This comes in handy when you have a team to supervise.
Fab Mc: How do you stay up to date regarding fashion?
Kaijuka: Being plugged in online because when new things happen, the internet is always there to inform us. Another thing is seeking new inspiration whenever I travel in and out of the country. You see a lot of great things whenever you’re out of your creative space.
Fab Mc: What do you think about work ethics and what kind of ethics do you believe in following while working with fashion?
Kaijuka: This is very important, seeing that fashion relies on creativity. To get ahead in fashion, you need to have excellent organizational skills. You need to be productive. You need to have a great attitude to work. You need to have a great personality. You also need to be a team player because in this space you can never work alone. You also should be respectful. The most important one being professionalism.
Fab Mc: Say something about your background?
Kaijuka: Humble background, my mother raised us to be handwork, God-fearing, and to value and appreciate the little we have because someone out there has nothing. I come from a family of 2 girls and 3 boys. We grew up in Mbarara. I was a fairly grounded child, but cheeky, and I don’t remember getting in trouble a lot.
Fab Mc: What do you consider the important facets of the fashion industry?
Kaijuka: The global fashion industry has its own facets because fashion is interpreted and consumed differently in different markets. In our market, we have made-to-measure fashion, which involves clothes created for your individual needs. This includes the gowns you see on the red carpet and bridal gowns. There’s also ready-to-wear, which involves clothes and accessories mass created for consumers to buy off the rack.
Fab Mc: How would you describe your personal style?
Kaijuka: My personal is hard to describe. I’d call it mysterious, one you can’t put in a box. I love to channel different a character whenever I dress up. Sometimes I just want to be serious. Then I’ll choose to be playful. Then I’ll be playful. It depends on my mood.
Fab Mc: How do you deal with arrogant clients?
Kaijuka: I’m always respectful. I try to find a middle ground where we can both meet then make a way to meet their needs. Sometimes clients are arrogant because of how they were treated by other service providers. It’s always best to show them that respectful service providers exist.
Fab Mc: How would you relate past and present fashion trends?
Kaijuka: I’m very appreciative of past fashion trends. A lot of my designs pick inspiration from the ’80s and ’70s trends. I’m not a fan of present trends, do I even know what they are? No! Actually, all these trends are just past trends that return because fashion is cyclic in nature.
Fab Mc: Explain your typical day
Kaijuka: I get up early to have my morning prayer. I then freshen and get ready for the day. I look at my schedule for the day and start planning. I brief my team on what we need to deliver. I’ll then have fittings here and there depending on the day. The rest of the day could be out of the workshop at photo or video shoots or at the workshop working on a deadline that needs to be met. In essence, what I enjoy the most about my work is the fact that no two days are the same. I get up every single day excited for what’s headed my way.
Fab Mc: According to you, who is the most stylish celebrity in Uganda?
Kaijuka: This question will get me trouble Fab hahaha but anyway there are so many stylish celebrities in Uganda. I’ll go with the safest option – The Nabagereka if she’s considered a celebrity. There’s a way she sits in her role so perfectly, with carefully selected fashion choices that are suited for royalty.
Fab Mc: Who or what inspires you when you’re creating designs?
Kaijuka: I’m inspired by the character and personality of the client. For my collections, I’m inspired by a mix of nature, culture, and music
Fab Mc: Fashion aside tell me about your love life
Kaijuka: I’m in a committed relationship.
Fab Mc: Describe to us your ideal woman
Kaijuka: My ideal woman is one with great family values, career-oriented, religious, and with a great sense of humor. She’s also smart, patient, and with a good heart. A great cook too because I can’t stand bad food.
Fab Mc: You are handsome and young meaning you have a lot of female fans, share with us an unforgettable experience with a fan.
Kaijuka: A fun sent me 1000 dollars on my birthday in 2019 and we have even never met up to now
Fab Mc: Would you date an older woman or sleep with a fellow man for fame and money (briefly explain why)
Kaijuka: I wouldn’t! Money – I’m hardworking and career-oriented. I might not have all the money I desire, but there’s not a thing I can’t have if I want to. If it’s too expensive, I’ll save up. Fame – I’m not a fan of fame. I believe in the idea that fame should find you rather than you finding it. That overnight stardom is not sustainable, especially if it is gotten through such means.
Fab Mc: What do you want to be remembered for?
Kaijuka: For the lives, I changed through my work. For being a good person. And for never giving up.
Fab Mc: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Kaijuka: I see a successful fashion designer, with a bigger workshop. I’m passionate about mentoring other creatives, maybe in five years, I’ll have mentored quite a number too. It’s all about God, he has his ways. We just need to keep working.
Fab Mc: How do you spend your free time and what’s your favorite meal?
Kaijuka: Love to hang out with friends in my free time, love watching moves and traveling is also one of my hobbies I listen to music in my free time. I love to socialize, so I enjoy hanging with friends too. My favorite meal is rice and chicken am not complicated at all hahaha.
Fab Mc: So between the two pretty ladies who would you go for Dark-skinned with Booty or Light skinned with Kabawo booty? And why?
Kaijuka: The former. There’s something about dark-skinned women. Also, a woman with a sizeable booty looks great in clothes. That’s the kind of woman every man would desire to have, I believe hahaha.
Fab Mc: What is your favorite daily attire?
Kaijuka: T-shirt and shorts simple me right? Hahaha
Fab Mc: Share with us how was the feeling when you won your first award in fashion how was it like?
Kaijuka: It was the Abryanz fashion award 2016 for stylist of the year when I was announced the winner. The feeling was surreal. It means a lot to be recognized for your effort and hard work.
Fab Mc: We are so grateful for your time; please give us a final message to our readers and your fans as well.
Kaijuka: Never give up on your dreams and pursue your talent now and don’t wait for later, you will not regret it, and lastly thank you the mighty pepper for the opportunity Blessings.