How Dominic’s clothes became big business

Fashion

How Dominic’s clothes became big business


Frederick Bittiner Wear workshop on December 3, 2021. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Summary

  • Launching a fashion house in 2019 wasn’t the idea he had when he first envisioned Fredrick Bittiner Wear.
  • While the plan looked good on paper, making it a reality was an expensive affair. This required not only machines but also passionate and committed tailors.
  • A great fan of ready-to-wear, he and his team of designers draw their inspiration from everyday experiences.

When Dominic Agesa founded Frederick Bittiner Wear, a fashion house in Nairobi, he chose a name without borders. One that would stand the test of time and allow her to sell her clothes all over the world.

“We started working with plus-size women who hadn’t been taken care of years ago,” he says.

“The reception was great and it caught the attention of many others. Now we serve women of all sizes and next year we will be launching a men’s line,” he says.

Launching a fashion house in 2019 wasn’t the idea he had when he first envisioned Fredrick Bittiner Wear. He wanted to import clothes from designer shops in the UK and sell them locally. Together with a friend, they embarked on this journey only to be derailed by the pandemic.

“With the government {temporarily} banning the import of second-hand clothes, we had to rethink our strategy. Our eyes were suddenly opened to the untapped potential of the market. We cleared all import projects and made our way to where we are today in designing and manufacturing garments, not only for the local market, but also for the international market. “, he explains.

flash

Frederick Bittiner Wear ready to be delivered to the fashion house’s showroom on December 3, 2021. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

While the plan looked good on paper, making it a reality was an expensive affair. This required not only machines but also passionate and committed tailors. He also wanted to create a business that would run on its own.

“To raise funds, I invited 17 tailors I worked with to become stakeholders in the business. Each contributed 30,000 shillings which I had to return if the business went south. It was risky, I know, but I believed in the business model.

With this money and his financial investment, he bought the first machines, making the clothing business a company capable of producing 10,000 garments per month.

Frederick Bittiner’s designs range from everyday essentials to fierce and playful pieces, as their names “flirty flow, icy woman and bang on a budget” suggest.

With 14 new models every week, produced in limited editions, they guarantee buyers unique pieces.

FAS

Frederick Bittiner Wear at the fashion house showroom on December 3, 2021. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

A great fan of ready-to-wear, he and his team of designers draw their inspiration from everyday experiences.

On his daily fitness runs, for example, he was inspired to design leggings and t-shirts after seeing women jogging in boring outfits. When this line of fitness clothing was launched, the demand was so high that it exceeded the supply.

“The customer is the foundation of the masterpieces created. We ask ourselves questions like what they like, how they spend their time,” explains Mr. Agesa, who has a background in strategy and marketing.

It also supports emerging designers launching their own fashion houses through their Startup Designer Package. So far, they have trained 40 small-scale designers.

Launching a successful clothing line is about more than just coming up with eye-catching designs.

After a few months in the business, he noted that fashion designers had skills but lacked crucial aspects of strategy and marketing, the foundations of a good business.

“Through the starter package, we help designers build a complete business. In addition, we help them make and sell their clothes on our platform,” he adds.

This approach led him to become executive director of the Kenyan Fashion Council.

“This platform will allow me to use my passion and skills to improve the industry.”

Social media is the tool he uses to sell his clothes.

“Most people think the brand is imported. It’s refreshing to hear positive feedback about the brand,” he says.

The name

The challenges he encountered drove him to build a business that is built on systems and principles rather than people, a choice that has seen the business function even in his absence as the team works on the shared vision.

Most fashion houses are named after their founders.

“The problem with this is that once the vision holder dies, the business also dies. The vision I have is bigger than me. I intend to create a lasting impact in the fashion industry, so I hire first, for visual compatibility,” he says.

But why the name Frederick Bittiner?

“It’s an ode to Frederick Bittiner, an artist who I don’t think has been celebrated enough.”

Elizabeth J. Harless