LE~GABRIELLE COLLECTIONS OUT TO ROCK WAVES IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY

Gabriel John at a past event next to a roll up banner displaying his company.
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Gabriel John, a medical biochem graduate infuses a touch of science into men’s fashion

By Joseph Macharia

It is said that a suit is the modern gentleman’s armour. And with it, comes style. Fashion may fade, but style is eternal.  Gabriel John a seasoned style connoisseur and chief executive officer ( CEO)  of Le~Gabrielle Collections (LGC) is proactively dedicated to unleash a wave of elegance in both men’s and women’s suits wear through his craft as a fashionpreneur. From scratch, in a creative rhythm of ideas,  he creates customized outfits that resonate with varied tastes and desires of clients.

Towering over seven foot tall, with the dapper charm of his well-tailored suits, John leaves an indelible first impression to all those who meet him.  His spark for fashion was kindled while in his final year at Kenyatta University (KU) where he was pursuing a bachelor of science degree  in medical biochemistry in 2020. He would effortlessly show up at events and people would crane their necks to steal a glance at him.

Origin

In 2019,  he had gotten a government job as a  data entry officer  for two months back at home in Bondo which earned him Kshs. 25,000. He used the proceeds to start his business. Determined, one morning he went and bought blazers and other accessories and unceremoniously launched his sartorial venture. So when going to school, other than carrying books for class, he would staff blazers in his bag to hawk to prospective customers, mostly students. 

As he went about his business, he discovered people wanted to wear customized items like suits and branded tee-shirts. Having no background in fashion design, he decided to enroll for a diploma in fashion design and tailoring at Delight Technical College in Nairobi. As if fate endorsed the move, six months into the programme, he got a scholarship by KCB Foundation to pursue the same course in a different institution. He switched to Vera Beauty College Thika branch and successfully completed the programme  in April 2024.

Prior to this, John had also enrolled for three months in a digital training programme  dubbed ‘e-biz kwa vijana’  jointly sponsored by USAID and Brighter Monday. The programme  taught him the fundamentals of e-commerce and digital marketing . He started producing LGC branded merchandise from tee-shirts to hoods to grow his brand.

In 2022,  he rented two shelves at Notify mall to display his wares.  After the mall collapsed, he  found himself into freelancing to keep going. Since then, LGC has grown to new levels moving into branding of merchandise besides providing bespoke accessories outfits for men. They have a flagship shop in Nairobi where they display their wares. Additionally, they offer consultancy services for events .“We give people different ideas on what to wear on events, what type of fabrics to blend; either African or casual and all that,” he explains.  John takes pride in having designed outfits for several top flight public figures in the country.

BEST MOMENT: Gabriel John when he won the Founder of the Year (FOYA) award 2023.

Awards

“I believe that an ideal fashion is a combination of creativity, personality and individuality. When you are able to come up with an outfit that you are comfortable in, that resonates with yourself, we can call it an ideal fashion,” John invokes.

All along John’s impact in the fashion industry has seen him nominated for various awards globally. In 2021,  LGC was nominated in the Total Energies Africa Start Up of the year award. In the following year of 2022, LGC was again nominated in two categories in the  ‘Start-up   of the Year Award (SOYA). The first category was the most promising start up of the year and second, the most promising fashion house of the year.

Year 2023 saw the firm nominated in a series of awards. Among them was the Pace Setters award continental chapter, in the Pace Setter fashion and design category. Back home, John was also nominated the best young CEO of 2023 in Jamhuri Kenya Awards. Similarly, he was nominated in the most promising fashionpreneur of the year in the founders list top twenty. All these were nominations. He did not win.

However, his big moment in entrepreneurship came when he bagged the  Founder of the year (FOYA) award where nominees are selected out of fourteen African countries. Currently, his nomination in the global golden business award in the category of emerging fashion brand in Kenya to be held Bangkok Thailand is underway. These events have   allowed him to network with people from all over the world which has consequently enriched his career and made it fulfilling.

Hurdles

The major challenge faced by John is capital. “Expansion has never been easy because of financial constraints. It is discouraging whenever people ask for items we haven’t stocked,” he laments.

Fashion industry no doubt attracts creative minds, as such competition is stiff. Nonetheless, John uses competition as wings beneath his wings. “In a good way, competition motivates me to work hard, to raise my standards and give my very best to my clients,” he adds. To counter competition he took a marketing course.

Since fashion industry is changing rapidly, keeping up with the changes is hard. New stock may be rendered obsolete within a short period.  Therefore,  it necessitates a fashionpreneur like him to keep up with the trends in order to provide relevant items to clients. At the end of the day , the customer will be always be right.

Gabriel John at his shop.

Road ahead

“I’m looking forward   to having  LGC group of companies as a household brand.  In  that  respect,  we don’t just deal in maybe two lines of businesses, but we deal in a lot of them and   when you get into our LGC mall, you’re able to visit the gym and spa, with hotels as well shops  for textiles and items all under  one  roof,” John shares.

Going forward,   he is looking  forward    to partnering    with likeminded entrepreneurs to expand his services to cater for ladies as well. In the wings he is set to open shop in Bondo soon. The business has four employees who help in running  its  day to day activities.  He hopes to have LGC as the first luxurious brand in Africa.

His word to youths who want to venture into entrepreneurship: “Put God first, have faith. Have passion for what you are doing. In as much as money is the focus, it is passion that keeps you going when obstacles arise.” He encourages young people to start small with whatever they have.

The other side of John

Typical day: Wakes up at around 4:30 am, starts the day with devotion up to 5.00  am.  HE then plays a musical  instrument, proceeds to take breakfast and attends to his daily work.

Best moment: When he won  the  Founder of the year (FOYA) award in 2023.

Hobbies: Singing and playing keyboard and guitar, nature walking and networking.

Favourite podcast: Hidden Brain.

Favourite dish: Chapati and chicken.

Dream car: Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Personal mantra: “Impossible is not a fact,  it is an opinion. I believe in unlimited possibility.”

Marital status: Engaged.

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