Brian Kisimba is a Nairobi-based tailor whose fresh and exquisite approach to his trade has made him stand out among his peers. His client base include former president Uhuru Kenyatta, investment bankers, C-suite executives, board executives, institution heads and moneyed businessmen who have no qualms spending a fortune to look and feel good.
The tailor has set up a multi-million business in Lavington, Nairobi. Here is his profile as told by WoK.
Background and Training
Brian is an alumnus of Strathmore University, Kenya. The institution is the leading non-profit private university in Kenya providing undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate, and professional course programs.
The institution trains and requires students to dress formally at all times which might have had an impact on the tailoring path Kisimba took.
After graduating, he traveled to the United Kingdom where he was trained by Andrew Ramroop, the proprietor and creative director of Maurice Sedwell.
Maurice Sedwell is a reputable ultra bespoke tailoring company that was established in 1938 in London and has dressed thousands across the world including Hollywood actor Samuel Jackson, professional footballer Robin Van Persie, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Keith Rowley, and writers Guild of America West President Howard Rodman among more.
Building His Own Brand Menshionette Suits Limited
After his training, he came back to Kenya having learned a lot and was ripe to build his own brand.
In December 2016, he founded the Menshionette suits label that deals with bespoke tailoring targeting niche clients. Bespoke tailoring is clothing made to an individual’s buyer specifications by a skilled tailor.
When asked about the difference between made-to-measure and bespoke tailoring, Kisimba stated, “You select the fabric, and perhaps lining for made-to-measure suits. Then the tailor uses pre-existing patterns for the construction and adjusts according to the client. However, in bespoke, we do everything from scratch. The number of measurements informs the perfection of the fit.”
The Menshionette suits are additionally hand-crafted from start to finish giving each piece a life of its own. His suits and jackets can go for Ksh 350,000 up to Ksh 2,000,000 depending on the client’s choice of fabric, detailing such as buttons, zippers, and other varying factors.
With a ready label, The Menshionette Suits, and a team acquired over a long search, vetting, and upskilling, Kisimba established Caliber Bespoke in June 2019.
The company whose tagline is Style is Person believes that a book shall forever be judged by its cover. Caliber Bespoke has a sole focus which is delivering traditionally tailored bespoke suits.
Kisimba says, “We don’t do shirts, ties, shoes, belts, or watches. We’re leaving a lot of money on the table because we choose to focus on one thing that we know we can deliver the most value for.”
True to this, the high-standard and quality take between six and twelve weeks to complete. The time taken varies depending on body shapes to ensure that the final product is a perfect fit after several mock suit-fitting sessions with the client.
Caliber Bespoke has in-house hand tailors who are the creme de la creme of their art when it comes to delivering British and Italian suits.
He goes on to explain that Italian suits are flair suits coming with an almost hourglass shape and accented a lot while the British suits are more discreet.
Clients are additionally offered options for their buttoning which range from the Mother of Pearl, the bullhorn, to the extremes of gold and diamonds.
Once a final suit is attained, the clients are handed an extensive and elaborate manual that guides the client on accessorising tips, handling, and care of the suit among more details.
The company also makes follow-up calls after six months to check whether the suit still fits the client right.
With a focus on classic, vintage, and incorporation of contemporary designs, the company seeks to be always relevant and remain true to giving the best quality and never compromising on its delivery.
Caliber Bespoke serves a niche customer base made up of dignitaries, executives, and entrepreneurs between the ages of 30 and 80.
In Kenya, the company has dressed ex-President Uhuru Kenyatta who commented, “This feels like home” after wearing a bespoke jacket from Caliber Bespoke in 2018.
When onboarding clients, Brian Kisimba says, “We don’t jump into the fabrics. We sit and talk because it’s an investment. A person buying our suits isn’t looking for a suit for the next couple of business deals. It’s more of an object of pleasure than a necessity because they’re already wearing Brioni or Canali.” Of his several clients including politicians, he has thirteen repeat clients.
The Caliber Bespoke CEO says that he does not use avenues such as social media to market or advertise his services. He says, “We are not on Instagram or active social media because our main client base isn’t there.” Instead, they send out hand-signed letters to their clients.
Brian Kisimba penned Man Enough in 2019, a book that sought to help men understand menswear professionally and to serve as a coaching tool for his clients on global clothing expectations.
He goes into detail on what makes or breaks a suit and how to attain world-class dressing standards. As a parting shot, Kisimba says, “There’s something about a well-cut suit that, even I, up to date, still haven’t figured out. I don’t know whether it’s how the collar sits so exactly on your neck, or how the fit hugs your chest.
Or maybe it could be the way the sleeves curve so precisely about your elbow and end at just the right length. I don’t really know. But whatever it is, it makes you feel invincible. Ready to do more and achieve more.”
Location and Contacts
Brian Kisimba set up shop at The Werks, Lavington, Nairobi. The shop is glass-paneled and looks exactly like one of the Saville Row, Mayfair, UK tailor shops.
It is equipped with artistic canvases for visualizations and materials such as fabric types such as Milano Exclusive, Holland & Sherry, James Hardinge, and Holland & Sherry, cloth details, and hand equipment.
He says they look for qualities such as breathability and suitability to the individual client.