Up until last Saturday, I hadn’t owned a Michael Soi Bag – such a shame! And I really don’t have a great reason as to why. Michael Soi is a contemporary Kenyan artist I revere deeply and I have always felt like I would be doing his bags injustice by grabbing any – anywhere so to get one I knew that I would have to visit his work space so I could see them all and feel as if the studio was earth and they were all the sea and my job was just to swim. This is how I feel when I go shopping for African fabrics at Alaba Market in Lagos.
My initial plan was always also to meet and have a proper convo with Michael Soi. Regardless, I am quite familiar with Soi’s artwork, particularly since my days as a writer and Associate Editor at UP Magazine. Through the years, I have seen Soi’s work evolve from the hands of mere art lovers and collectors to become pop and mainstream without losing its intrigue and authenticity. If you are keen you will recognize Soi’s art work in popular banks, restaurants and even clubs like Havana.
Michael Soi’s style and expression has catapulted him to become one of Africa’s most celebrated artists of a unique lot. His fancy long necked women, solo or alongside all types of Nairobi men represent social commentary, sparking keenness and critical thinking among us all.
My friend, Tosin, visiting from Lagos lands in Nairobi recently carrying her Michael Soi bag. She is gushing over Soi. I am so ashamed because I am the one who lives in Nairobi yet don’t even own one of Soi’s works.
“Is that a Michael Soi Bag?” I prod Tosin upon arrival.
She says, “Yes! I got this in 2015, during my first trip to Kenya.”
Her story is sweet. She bumped into Soi’s studio while at The GoDown for a Google Event. She narrates: “As soon as I got to the hotel I thought ‘how nice is this bag?’ so I went back the next day and bought two others and he was kind enough to give me a great discount. Since then we’ve kept contact.” The globetrotter loves the bags and travels with them almost everywhere she goes.
At that moment I quickly decide to get a Michael Soi Bag ASAP. I was lucky to find him at the studio when we visited last Saturday. I finally have a tête-à-tête with Soi. I am even luckier to find that since 2015, he has never bumped up the prices of his bags, Tosin confirms.
While at the shop, I am spoilt for choice. I want them all because they represent me at different seasons and days. They are all awesome, beautiful, popping and classic. The lady I finally pick is striking! She’s got red lips and red shades. She is closest to my personality at the moment. Once in a while I get on red lips or a red outfit/accessory. And even though I hate than love the colour red I’ve never regretted that devil-ish strong sexy look.
I’ve branded the Michael Soi Lady on my bag a Dare Devil. I can’t wait till I can get more just so I can get to know them in terms of who and what they represent. So which Michael Soi Bag Lady are you?