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If Calvin Klein is 'Made in Kenya'

Kenyan company produces big brands

24-05-2023 by Freddie del Curatolo

We have long argued that Western companies with big retail aspirations should explore the possibilities of opening factories in Kenya. That is why we spend so much effort to convince Italian entrepreneurs to think about this country and sound out its market.
Although the government has only recently been opening up to granting tax breaks and giving bureaucratic assistance to those who decide to invest in the country, there are signs that this could be the right season, also due to Kenya's need, which has great margins for growth, to emerge from a serious economic crisis.
One of the evidence of these opportunities has made national headlines via social media.
A post by the American fashion house Calvin Klein, which advertised a green polo shirt bearing the label 'Made in Kenya' went viral in Africa.
Many at the same time wondered: "but does a great quality brand like Klein really produce some of its garments in Kenya?"
For now, we had become accustomed to the florilegium of counterfeit brands, of which Kenya is full, or to what can be found on the stalls of the 'mitumba', the second-hand stalls that arrive in one-tonne bales from Europe. Then you can find Calvin Klein boxer shorts for five euros.
Instead, in Athi River, there is a Sri Lankan company, whose opening was facilitated and inaugurated by then-President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2020, that produces garments for the American fashion conglomerate Phillips-Van Heusen, which owns brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, as well as the hugely popular jeans multinational Levi's.
Mas Intimates' currently employs over 3000 Kenyans, has injected nearly $9 million into the country's economy and shipped over $24 million worth of clothing under the 'Made in Kenya' label. Mas Intimates' global presence spans 17 countries. The company exports its garments mainly to the US and Canada, as well as other parts of the world such as Australia, Mexico and Japan.The company is part of the Special Economic Zone (EPZ) textile companies in the Nairobi hinterland that are exempt from paying taxes for the first few years. Ownership of Mas Intimates, which also has in-house screen printing and embroidery services, said it plans to increase the current number of employees to 7,000 by 2025.

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