13 of 2023

 Newsletter No 13/ 6 April 2023                              


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Introducing Uniq: Shoprite’s foray into fashion

Shoprite Group has launched its new clothing brand Uniq, and opened the doors to its first standalone fashion store in Cape Town’s Canal Walk Shopping Centre. Another Uniq eight stores are scheduled to open in the next month.

According to South Africa’s largest supermarket group, the Uniq brand caters to the whole family and is focused on simplicity, comfort, superior fabrics and value. The clothing range consists of premium basics in a variety of colours and fabrics that are easy to mix and match. “Every item of clothing is thoughtfully designed and made to last, pairing durable fabrics with stylish and versatile designs,” Shoprite said.

It added that Uniq has sourced materials specifically engineered for comfort and convenience, and it is the first local clothing retailer to introduce Supima cotton to the mass market. With longer fibres than regular cotton, this superior quality cotton is said to be stronger, softer and absorbs colour better, keeping clothing lustrous after many washes.

The premium quality launch range includes an extensive collection of t-shirts (priced from R149) including a standard, slim and oversized fit, and women’s wear in luxurious fabrics, such as modal-blend leggings which contain 10% elastane (R199 each), brushed fleece joggers (R299 each), and cosy knits and sleepwear.

There’s also modern menswear such as fleecetech jackets, hoodies and bottoms, including corduroy pants and shirt jackets, while kiddies’ basics (ages 3 – 13) feature muted tones which are mirrored on the adult lines so parents can have fun twinning with their little ones. Shoppers will also find responsibly sourced down-filled puffer jackets (from R799), and underwear for men and women.

Self-service checkout

Uniq is the first clothing retailer in South Africa to offer self-service checkout. Smart tags and advanced radio-frequency identification (RFID) enable customers to easily scan and pay for items.

Customers will be assisted on the sales floor by trained employees, with on average nine new jobs created with the opening of every Uniq store.

Eight more standalone stores will be opened at the following locations over the next month: Ballito Junction Mall (KwaZulu-Natal), Secunda Mall (Mpumalanga), Table Bay Mall (Western Cape), Mall@Reds Shopping Centre (Gauteng), The Grove Mall (Gauteng), Galleria Mall (KwaZulu-Natal), Chartwell Corner (Gauteng) and Menlyn Park (Gauteng).  Bizcommunity

Romatex contributes to SA’s textile manufacturing output

by Deneb

South Africa’s manufacturing sector saw  1.4% growth in 2022. Despite a slight downturn towards the end of the year, the third-quarter performance helped with the overall growth of the industry for the year. The year-end decline was caused by sustained load-shedding, which had a large impact on many manufacturing facilities and businesses.

Within the manufacturing industry, the clothing, textiles, footwear and leather (CTFL) sector also experienced an upturn in 2022. This is partly due to major local fashion retailers sourcing more South African products in an effort to reduce the reliance on Asian imports. The non-woven textiles industry, specifically, is on a growth path..

Romatex, is a leading manufacturer of stitch-bonded non-woven material and other textiles in South Africa. The company contributed to the national manufacturing output in 2022 and is set to invest further in its facility and equipment in 2023. Stitchbond is a sustainable textile made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET).

Every year, we manufacture around 24 million square metres of this textile, which is enough to keep 54 million plastic bottles out of landfills and the environment. There are many uses for stitchbond, including recycled shopping bags, vertical window blinds, waterproof membranes and even eco-bricks..

Turbulent times in manufacturing

Although 2022 ended with a slight growth over the year before, there were some tough periods for the industry. Persistent power cuts contributed to a significant deterioration in production and output throughout the year. While the country see-sawed between various stages of load shedding, the manufacturing sector felt the pressure.

The largest growth within the sector took place between July and October 2022, but the nationwide move to higher levels of load shedding in November and December caused a decrease in output. This meant that purchasing prices fell to their lowest levels in over three years during December; further compounding cost pressures on manufacturers.

While the overall growth is positive, the underlying situation is more turbulent. The Absa business activity index reveals the correlation between power cuts and manufacturing output. “Sustained and intense load-shedding during the last month of 2022 was likely a key drag on the sector,” says Absa in a statement.

Impact of imports on textile output

The textile manufacturing sector has experienced a steady decline in output since the late 1990s due to cheap imports from Asia. Retailers and fashion brands started sourcing materials from China, India and Pakistan (to name a few) when trading sanctions against South Africa were lifted in 1998.

Over the last two decades, the value of textiles being imported outweighed the value of textiles being manufactured. Most of these imports come from East Asian countries, but a lot comes from within Africa – Swaziland, Lesotho and Mauritius are three of the biggest import markets for clothing and textiles currently.

However, local retailers and fashion brands are starting to look for more local suppliers. This is a welcome trend that will help to stabilise the industry and contribute positively to the national gross domestic product (GDP). Romatex largely supplies these retailers and hospitality companies in South Africa. For more information about our various products and textiles, please contact us today.

The cartoonification of fashion

By Sandiso Ngubane

Image: MSCHF

Cartoons evoke nostalgia, and in a world where there is much to fret about, our yearning for a time when things were much easier and simple is not misplaced

Which cartoon character would you say is the best dressed? Cruella De Vil from Disney’s 101 Dalmations? What about Ashley Spinelli from Disney’s Recess with her signature orange beanie, red dress, jacket and riding boots? Johnny Bravo? Minnie Mouse?

Why am I talking about cartoon characters and their sense of style? Well, unless you’ve had blinders on for the last few weeks, you would have perhaps come across, or—at the very least—heard about the now pretty famous big red boots which have appeared everywhere on the internet and on the feet of several celebrities including rappers Coi Leray, Lil Wayne, Rich the Kid and singer Ciara. Fashion influencer Wisdom Kaye wore his pair styled like Astroboy from the classic Japanese manga series.

The big red boots look quite cartoonish, and are apparently made of the same material as Crocs. They were introduced by MSCHF, the American art collective that is also responsible for rapper Lil Nas X’s controversial so-called Satan shoes, customised with blood in its sole. If this all sounds like a massive troll, that’s probably because it is. The same collective debuted its AC.1 sneaker, which looks no different to a moon boot, late last year. Quoted in Highsnobiety when the AC.1 dropped, MSCHF co- founder Daniel Green said: “The first time I ever saw someone wearing a walking boot I thought it looked incredible.”

He added: “Industries with little to no regard for aesthetics designing objects for utilitarian purposes churn out bangers like no one else. We’ve collectively aestheticized glasses but the trend of functional medical accessories making the leap to fashion seems to have lagged. No longer. Let’s push the envelope on what footwear is; footwear should be anything that you wear on your feet.”

If this sounds ridiculous, well, maybe you’re just a party pooper. Everyone seems to be having fun with what MSCHF is doing but what’s perhaps gone unnoticed by most is that we’re well within the era of what can be described as nothing short of a cartoonification trend in fashion, and in film.

In 2021, Disney gave us the Emma Stone and Emma Thompson-starring live action version of ‘Cruella’, and this year, director Greta Gerwig will be giving us the much anticipated, Margo Robbie-led ‘Barbie’. One can argue that the popularity of comic book adaptations like Marvel’s Cinematic Universe—which has been giving us some of the highest grossing films of all time for over ten years—is also a case in point.

Cartoons have always played a role in fashion appearing as prints in shirts and more. Many would even argue that Minnie Mouse is a fashion icon because of her polka dot dress. I certainly can’t dispute that. She’s the first thing that comes to mind whenever I see polka dots. Lately, however, trends seem to indicate that fashion is leaning into cartoonish aesthetics rather than simply referencing them.

Image: Cris Fragkou

Late last year Dazed Magazine ran the headline “Why have designers robbed Barbie and blown up her heels?” having noticed bolbous shoes at runway shows from JW Anderson. It didn’t end there. At least not for Irish designer Jonathan Anderson, whose eponymous brand is currently retailing Croc-like “frog loafers” with eyes on the upper.

Cartoons evoke nostalgia, and in a world where there is much to fret about, our yearning for a time when things were much easier and simple is not misplaced. Childhood epitomises this nostalgia and there is not better way of reliving it than by tapping into something that gave us all joy growing up.

Market uptake remains to be seen, but, retailing at US$350 (about R 6, 500) MSCHF’s Big Red Boots have already sold out. That considered, it is quite plausible that they will continue to shell out similar offerings and fashion, as well as lifestyle brands, would want to tap into the momentum MSCHF has injected into the trend.  

The Most Outrageous Looks From the 2018 Grammy Awards

Rachel Antonoff

Rachel Antonoff is giving us real Hipster Big Bird vibes in this feather-trimmed shirtdress.


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