Fashion News: April/May 2016 Edition

The latest fashion news reveals that in South Africa, both retailers and consumers are late adopters in making use of online shopping. On the International front, interesting reads worth checking out is the “Facebook for clothing items” as well as the changes in the way consumers view luxury fashion. Furthermore, Kenya is set to become an exporter of clothing due to the favourable AGOA trade agreement. Read more below…

South African

The growth of retail sales has increased by a lower margin in comparison to 2015 retail sales. This has been attributed to increased levels of unemployment in the country coupled with an increase in the cost of living. General dealers and retailers of clothing, shoes, textiles and leather goods were the main sectors that influenced the growth in sales.

Businesses interested in using online platforms to start a business or expand their current operations can attend South Africa’s first ecommerce conference happening in Sandton, Johannesburg on 2-3 June 2016.

Mr Price has hired Sue Napier, former MD of the award winning South African advertising agency – Ireland/Davenport, as their marketing director.

A report comparing shopping trends of consumers from South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria has indicated that Nigerian consumers do more of their shopping online.

The Mall of Africa, the largest in Africa, opened its doors in late April. Situated in Midrand at Waterfall city, the opening attracted 84 000 foot traffic. Owners of the property expect to attract 15 million shoppers on an annual basis which converts to sales racking up to about R4bn per year.

Online retail in South Africa is currently dominated by new web-based companies such as Zando and Spree. Many of the major retail companies have not caught on to making use of e-commerce. Experts have indicated that shopping in South Africa is still mainly occurring offline in shopping malls and that South Africa is 10-15 years behind the Western Market in this regard. Retail Sales from online shopping in South Africa constitutes only 1% of the total.

Local South African clothing companies are feeling the competitive pressure from foreign clothing companies such as H&M, Cotton On and Zara that have been entering the retail sector over the past few years. These strong competitors pose a real threat in terms of diminishing market share that local companies currently have.

Woolworths have opened an environmentally friendly store in the new Mall of Africa. The store has been designed to make use of energy recycling measures, energy-efficient lighting and water saving mechanisms. Furthermore, customers visiting the store will enjoy a dedicated footwear department and in-house standalone stores of Australian premium brands.

The usage of mobile money by way of M-Pesa is big in Kenya. Furthermore, numbers indicate 96% mobile penetration for the country’s population. Most transactions are occurring from consumer to consumer and there is still great potential for growth in making use of mobile money transfers between consumers and retailers.


Ferragamo shoe brand has incorporated the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags that distinguishes fake from original shoes. This has been a recent measure used in the fight against the multi-billion US dollar industry of counterfeit goods. Cross-border trade of counterfeit goods amounted to $415 billion in 2013.

Many fashion retail department stores in North America are experiencing declining sales and one of the reasons cited is that they’re not located in optimum spaces. Coach, the luxury handbag and shoe label, has indicated that they’d withdraw from department stores as a result of underperforming sales.

Victoria’s Secret will discontinue merchandising swimwear in the New Year. The company plans to focus on their core goods and possibly add an active wear range.

Fashion labels are finding it more valuable to create a single vision for up and coming fashion collections rather than having separate collections catered to different markets.

The largest athletic shoe and apparel company on the planet would have been named “Sixth Dimension”, until an employee proposed the name Nike – the Greek goddess of victory. Phil Knight who founded the business, started out by selling sneakers from the trunk of his car.

The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors of environmental pollution mainly due to the vast amounts of water and energy needed for manufacturing. Moreover, chemicals used to dye clothing items is quite damaging to the environment. Eileen Fisher, a leading sustainability brand, aims to combat this by setting goals in creating more sustainable fashion options by the year 2020.

Many popular fashion brands have been rated very low on their transparency with regards to supply chain practices. Consumers are not aware of labour conditions within the factories that manufacture clothing of big brand names. Prada, Chanel and Forever 21 were amongst the lowest ranking clothing companies according to reports.

Balenciaga’s new creative director, Demna Gvasalia, will be launching a menswear fashion show for the first time since the label was started almost a century ago.

Vetements brand used a DHL T-shirt as part of their fashion collection and it sold out within a matter of weeks – regardless of the hefty price tag of this ordinary t-shirt. This article explores the use of logos and its meaning as well as how it has evolved from representing “who I am wearing” to “who I am”.

Retail stores are exploring the use of digital technology to enhance customer experience in stores. At present the use of smartphone apps gives customers direct access to discounts, however retailers are looking to improve the use of apps by gaining more relevant data about the customer. Sales associates also make use of their direct interaction with consumers in order to add customer-specific data. Furthermore, other stores are experimenting with the use of digital technology in fitting rooms that would allow more options for customers based on what they’ve chosen to try on. Challenges with this form of digital technology range from the cost of installing and maintenance as well as the practicality of offering this specific service offering to as many customers as possible.

The trade of apparel manufacturing in Kenya is set to gain from the AGOA (African Growth and Oppurtunity Act) agreement, which the USA has extended for another 10 years. At present the country’s apparel industry mainly constitutes of importing second-hand clothing. The potential for exporting garments from East Africa have been predicted to amount to a total of $3 billion dollars annually by the year 2025, as a result.

Yoox Net-a-Porter, an e-commerce group, has recently sold a 4 percent stake to a Middle Eastern Company. Alabbar Enterprises owns the Dubai Mall which is known as the luxury shopping mall most frequently visited in the world.  At conclusion of this deal, the online luxury fashion retailer is now valued at $4.2 billion.

Social media allows for ordinary individuals to become trendsetters without having to spend loads of money on expensive luxury brands. This means that consumers now have more influence in terms of making a change to the traditional landscape that the fashion industry has been. The impact is of such significance that the chief executive of Gucci has needed to create a strategy that would allow the luxury brand to adapt to the changing nature of what consumers want.

Made to measure garments are quite expensive and is mostly excluded to haute couture lines of design houses. The advent of 3D printing has made it possible to print made to measure clothing and although the technology is still in its infancy, this means that in the future consumers will be able to print made to measure clothing in their homes at a less expensive and less wasteful manner.

Avery Dennis – a product labelling company – and a digital identity management company called Evrythng is now collaborating to provide clothing items with an online identity – much like a “Facebook for clothing”. This will allow for consumers to be informed about manufacturing history of items as well as access to after sales loyalty programs and recycling options.

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