By Shifa Mwihaki
Billionaire Chris Kirubi often brags he’s easily Kenya’s most expensively dressed dude.
The wool for his suits, he told Going Out Guide magazine a few years back, is bought in America or England. And not just any wool, but the one with a weave of between 150s and 180s spins, the finest in the market. The material is then flown to Brioni, the high-end Italian fashion house, where he is personally known, having been a client for over 20 years.
Since few local dry cleaners can handle the material, Kirubi flies with his suits for drycleaning in Paris or London. You can’t take chances on a suit that cost Sh1 million. Brioni’s other notable customers include Prince Albert II of Monaco and American Presidents George W Bush and Donald Trump.
I have a weakness for shoes, I can give Imelda Marcos (former Filipino First Lady) competition
Buy Kenya, Build Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta gets his multi-coloured shirts from Rivatex in Eldoret. Trump like Kirubi, buys from Brioni in Italy.
Our childhood has a way of influencing the present. Kirubi was born in the Rift Valley where his parents were casual farmhands. There was not enough to eat. He walked to and from school…like wildlife. When he became rich in real coin, Kirubi got himself two rooms full of shoes, over 1000 Brioni neckties, equal number of designer shirts and enough suits to wear for six months without repeating.
“I have a weakness for shoes, I can give Imelda Marcos (former Filipino First Lady) competition, some I have never even worn!” he once said in an interview.
Like Kirubi, the Grand Mullah shops at Brioni. His suits average Sh1.2 million each
Grand fashion: Ahmednassir Abdullahi reckons ‘I think I have good taste in clothes; suits, shirts, ties, shoes. All my jeans and most of my suits are by Brioni.’
The other men in Kenya who can give Kirubi a run for his money in the fashion department include lawyer Ahmednassir Abdullahi, ‘The Grand Mullah’, Siaya Senator James Orengo and Cotu boss Francis Atwoli.
Like Kirubi, the Grand Mullah shops at Brioni. His suits average Sh1.2 million each. “I think I have good taste in clothes; suits, shirts, ties, shoes. All my jeans and most of my suits are by Brioni. I’m into labels. I shop when I travel; my clothes remind me of where I have been,” said the man whose Brioni suits have his name on the inner label.
The gold Franck Muller wrist watch cost Francis Atwoli Sh5 million and ‘I paid the money in instalments’
Clothes maketh a man: Cotu boss Francis Atwoli is the other Kenyan in the Sh1 million suit category and who is rumoured not to repeat shirts.
He also once confessed to the Business Daily that his watch cost Sh870,000 as “I live for today, I don’t save money, I don’t care what happens tomorrow. Only God has plans for tomorrow.”
That watch cannot hold a candle to the gold Franck Muller wrist watch which cost Francis Atwoli Sh5 million and “I paid the money in installments,” confessed Atwoli.
But do I say: Senator James Orengo shocked wealthy lawyer, the late Mutula Kilonzo after casually buying a Sh80, 000 shirt.
Siaya Senator James Orengo also has a penchant for pricey, well-fitting, pin-striped suits that frame his lithe frame. Miguna Miguna’s 2012 memoirs, Peeling Back the Mask, recalls how when he was Minister for Lands, Orengo bought himself a suit worth Sh500,000, two belts worth 40,000 each and a shirt worth Sh80,000 during a foreign trip.