Mango, a Spanish clothing chain, has opened a store in Kenya, joining international brands such as Lacoste, Cocolili, Pierre Cardin, Foschini, LC Waikiki, and others that have already pitched tent in mostly Karen, Westgate and Runda malls.
The Nairobi store, which will be the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, will mainly stock urban contemporary designs.
Christopher Joseph, one of the directors of Mango fashion brand said that Kenyans are starved of affordable fashion choices. Those that are affordable are mostly mass-produced.
“The existing options are either low cost, functional and basic or extremely expensive and out of reach for most Kenyans. Mango’s prices are accessible, with new looks on the shelves every few weeks,” he said.
Although women are usually the target market for most clothing brands, the Westgate store looks to serve the whole family.
“Women are the largest buyers of fashion, particularly fashionistas and executives but we will also curate men’s designs including suits and workwear. We add styles every two to three weeks and only buy a few pieces of each garment, so that our customers will have no fear of owning something that 10 other people have,” said Mr Joseph.
The designs of the clothes in the Kenyan store will borrow from major cities around the world. They will be fashion forward and mesh with Nairobi’s urban vitality.
Mango has stores in 15 African countries but all its clothes and accessories are designed and distributed from Barcelona. Its Hangar Design Centre is one of the largest in Europe with more than 600 creative professionals. Every year, the team reviews more than 100,000 looks and at least 20,000 designs are picked and later find their way into 1,220 Mango stores globally.
“Once the 600 design-team approves a new style, another team sources for the best manufacturers of fabrics and cuts,” he said.
In Kenya, the store will have ethnic prints, floral motifs and nautical themes. Their warm weather fabrics usually draw heavily from cotton and linen while cool weather allow for use of wool, cashmere and leather. The prices range from Sh3,000 to Sh6,000, although suits, special occasion dresses and outerwear will be more expensive.
Even as fashion brands fight for Kenyan buyers, Mr Joseph said none of Mango’s global competitors are present in Nairobi.
‘‘The brands in Kenya are primarily focused on fulfilling a functional need, and are not categorised as fashion in other markets,’’ he said.