NEW Version of Our Story
KOY Clothing was founded by two brothers, Alastair and Jimmy Scott who grew up in Kenya.
Growing up in Africa is an experience like no other. It shapes and develops you in a certain way. Imagine having a garden that never ends, full of life, full of colour and untapped potential. As kids we are naive and innocent, feeling you can play forever in this peaceful garden, but as you get older you realise it’s not quite as harmonious as you once thought.
It all started with a birthday present…
Alastair wanted to get a present that made Jimmy standout at his 21st birthday party. Alastair scoured the internet but couldn't find anything to match what he had in mind. Then, the bright and unique Kikoy fabric that surrounded us growing up in Kenya popped into mind. So, he went to the local Kenyan markets, bought some Kikoy fabric, took it to 'Charles' a local tailor and 'voila' - the first ever KOY Clothing jacket was created.
For a few years after Jimmy's birthday, friends and friends of friends started asking us to make them similar blazers - so we did this as a hobby on the side of University/our full time jobs...
Our Promise was born…
KOY Clothing was officially incorporated as a business in December 2016 and from the moment our first blazer was stitched, we made a promise, a promise we intend to deliver on...
Africa has so much to offer and while many choose to give back to it, there are some who choose to exploit it. It is our promise to value what this stunning continent has given us. We do this by giving 5% of all sales (At least 50% of profits - see how this amount is calculated HERE) to projects within Kenyan communities, helping the people, the place and the wildlife.
2017 - Investments/Events
Midway through 2017 we received investment from a hedge fund which enabled Jimmy and Alastair to quit their full time jobs and pursue their dream.
We did our first ever trade stand at Polo in the Park, London, and we haven't looked back since...
2018/19 - The Growth
We went from offering purely menswear products and having zero high street presence in 2017 to launching an entire womenswear line and stocking in 13 stores UK wide in 2018.
In 2019 we turned over 10x what we did in our first year, going from 8 styles of clothing in 2017 to over 40 styles in 2019.
At this stage, the vast majority of our sales came from pop up shops at events.
2020 - COVID
We had just launched our biggest collection ever and were set to hit the road for our events season and show our customers what we had created. Suddenly COVID happened and the whole world shut down!
We had to adapt and sell our merchandise exclusively online as this was the only option. We are very proud of our efforts to do this, but sales were heavily affected, and we had to cancel our entire AW22 collection - BUT we survived!
2021 - The re-opening
Towards the end of 2021 our beloved events returned, and at the same time we launched our products on Johnlewis.com so the business received a real boost and pre COVID growth rates returned.
The new products we launched during 2021 were a raving success and we expanded our range considerably despite supply issues.
2022 - The future...
The aftermath of COVID still wreaks havoc on supply chains all over the world and the war in Ukraine has worsened the situation.
We have so many exciting product ideas that we want to show the world but have as yet been unable to produce them - fingers crossed for 2023!
Despite the production/supply issues we were still able to achieve strong growth in the year and welcome so many new customers.
The turmoil of the last 2 years has delayed plans slightly, but it is still our ultimate goal to have as many of our products made in Kenya as possible, as we believe this is the best way we can support Kenya and its economy...
Meet Janet (to the right), one of the Maasai Mamas who beads our belts.
From Janet’s beading work over the years, she helps her husband support their family of 7 children: including school fees, clothing, food, water and medical bills. She also supports her elderly parents.
EACDT Project (February 2019, re-visited in 2021)
We had a mind blowing day with these talented kids in the Kawangware slums of Nairobi in February 2019. We are proud to announce our partnership with the East Africa Character Development Trust (https://eacdt.org/) for our ‘Luo’ Collection fund. They are an incredible charity that are transforming the lives of young Kenyan children in deprived areas of Kenya through Cricket, ultimately driving them towards a better life after school. Our initial contribution will support up to 80 children through this programme for one year, and this is just the beginning. It’s an honour to be a part of such an amazing cause!
In February 2021 we re-visited Kwawangare slums and were so impressed with the achievements of the EACDT that we have committed £30,000 of support over the next 3 years.
Elkana Ongesa Museum Project (October 2018)
Inspiring day with this wise man and artist - ‘Elkana Ongesa’. Here we have just handed over a confirmation letter of our funding towards ‘Elkana’s’ museum and his mission of preserving the beautiful heritage of the ‘Gusii’ tribe - ‘Kisii Soapstone Carving’. As you may know, our designs are inspired by and named after tribes and communities in Kenya, and 5% of all sales go back into these communities. These inspirations come from a variety of special tribal traditions. In this case, we would like to share with you the inspiration behind our 'Gusii' (Pink) collection. Soapstone carving has been an old tradition in Kisii. Soapstone has a stunning natural pink colour shade, hence the pink colour of our 'Gusii' collection. Elkana Ongesa was brought up in a family of soapstone carvers and the art has been in his family for generations. This funding will help Elkana train young Gusii people in the art of Soapstone carving, so they can go on to sell their own carvings in the future, which will in turn preserve this special cultural heritage. This project will also help to improve Elkana’s museum, bring more tourism to the Kisii County, and eventually build Elkana his dream museum!