MILLE Collines is here. However, Mille Collines should not be confused with Hotel des Mille Collines that acquired fame in Hotel Rwanda movie — it is a Rwandan fashion house that is looking to expand in East Africa.
The fashion house, which opened its first shop in the outskirts of Kigali in Rwanda, now seeks to spread its wings in the region.
“We chose Kenya because we know it well and the Village Market matched the standards of the brand,” Marc Oliver said.
Both Oliver and Inés Cuatrecasas are frequent visitors to Kenya. Mille Collines, which means “a thousand hills”, has found space at the ground floor of the Village Market shopping mall.
Cuatrecasas and Oliver, who are Spanish, say their drive to take the Mille Collines brand to the rest of East African market arises from a growing appreciation of fashion made in Africa.
Oliver said that Mille Collines strives to give its customers a whole shopping experience. “We are not just a shop with clothes,” he says.
And there is more to it: From the appearance, layout and staff to the smell of the shop – incense is regularly burnt in this outlet – are all there to give the customer a complete brand experience.
Established in Kigali in 2007, the fashion house has grown to a workshop of 28 staff. It also works with co-operatives outside the city. The co-operatives make accessories like buttons and do embroidery.
However, the proprietors do the clothes on their own to maintain quality.
“Mille Collines is built on quality, African tradition and is trendy. That the quality is at the core of their brand philosophy,” Cuatrecasas stressed.
As a result, this has won its followers in Barcelona, Spain — their home country, but its biggest market is in the US where they sell through Macy’s, a department store.