Newsletter No 15/22 April 2022
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Local fashion brand heads to the US
Urban Zulu, a pan-African clothing brand has partnered with Nubian Hueman, a modern boutique store featuring African apparel based in Washington DC in the United States of America.
Urban Zulu is an Afrocentric fashion brand specialising in ready-to-wear clothes, as well as bespoke clothing and accessory designs. The name Urban Zulu embodies the ideal of the Urban Heaven. Inspired by the spiritual, connected to the beauty and texture of the physical, Urban Zulu reflects the balance between the higher ideals of love and unity and practical functionality. The “Urban” element of the brand speaks to the fast-paced lifestyle demands of modern living.
After dropping out of university due to a lack of funds, Papy Kaluw, Urban Zulu founder, taught himself how to hold a hand needle, and nearly two decades later is taking his brand to the world. The Pan African clothing brand has partnered with Nubian Hueman, a modern boutique store featuring African apparel based in Washington DC, USA.
“The roots of Urban Zulu have always been about African people uniting,” says Kaluw.
He adds that “this partnership allows Africans and those with African roots, no matter where they are to experience Urban Zulu and be united through clothes.”
The partnership will allow Urban Zulu to have a physical presence and a store in Washington DC. Bizcommunity
The Pepkor trajectory
By Adele Shevel
An employee at a checkout desk inside a Pep store. Picture: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg
Pepkor has its roots nearly 60 years ago in the then modest, platteland outpost of Upington
Pep traces its beginning to the Northern Cape town of De Aar in 1965, when Renier van Rooyen opened the first store. With no experience or financial training, he borrowed the equivalent of R1,000 to start the retail company.
He had, however, been exposed to the clothing trade from a young age: after his father died, his mother supported the family by selling clothes she made.
Van Rooyen dabbled in various businesses before starting Pep, including helping farmers with their bookkeeping. It was there that he began to appreciate the dangers of buying on credit, and how people get into debt.
He told the Cape Argus in 1990: “It occurred to me that if I could sell essential goods for cash at lower prices, I could make a profit, while saving consumers unnecessary debt.”
His target market was lower-income working people who didn’t have much money to spare individually, but who collectively represented immense purchasing power. So, he raised funding from investors (including from Christo Wiese’s father, Stoffel) and opened Pep.
According to a book by Van Rooyen’s son Johann, Pep “became synonymous with quality clothing at discount prices”, with its formative slogan being: “We don’t sell cheap clothing: we sell clothing cheaply.”
Soon after Pep opened, Van Rooyen moved the head office from Upington to Cape Town, which was the main source of the clothing the store sold, as well as the heartland of an important segment of customers — “the coloured community”.
By February 1968, Pep had 18 stores with an average turnover per store of R79,000. By the end of that year, the store base had nearly doubled to 29.
Van Rooyen had no qualms about heading into a price war with rivals.
Along the way, Pepkor proved the making of some of SA’s toughest executives. Besides Wiese, there was Whitey Basson, hired as Pepkor’s finance director in 1971, shortly before it listed on the JSE in June 1972.
Basson was immediately thrust into a crisis, as a fire caused by an electrical short-circuit destroyed the main warehouse and Pep’s headquarters in Kuils River. Products worth R1m (which in 2010 was estimated to be equivalent to R100m) were destroyed.
Some years later, in 1979, it was Basson who convinced Van Rooyen to take a gamble on a little-known Western Cape grocery chain called Shoprite, and diversify into food.
Van Rooyen left the group in 1982 at the age of 50, selling his stake to Wiese. After that, Shoprite bought the near-insolvent food retailer Checkers, and Pepkor bought upmarket chain Stuttafords, clothing retailer Smart Centre, DIY chain Cashbuild, as well as Harties, Waltons and OK Bazaars (for R1).
It expanded overseas too in 1992, into the UK and Australia. By 1998 Pepkor had a turnover of more than R20bn, with pretax operating profit of R480m obtained from 2,641 stores.
In 2003, Pepkor accepted a buyout offer from private equity group Brait, along with Wiese. Then, in 2014, Wiese accepted a R62bn buyout offer for Pepkor from Markus Jooste’s Steinhoff, laying the platform for its turbulent past few years. BD
A touch de trop, or everlastingly divine?
By Michele Magwood
Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Fashion.
A new biography unwraps the complexities of Karl Lagerfeld, the emperor of fashion.
When Karl Lagerfeld died in 2019, the curtain came down on an age we are unlikely to ever see again — the era of fashion excess. Into the Grand Palais, the vast glass palace in Paris, streamed princesses and presidents’ wives, supermodels, actresses, booksellers, jewellers, moguls, and frocked fashion Valkyries, all come to pay homage to Lagerfeld, the Emperor, the walking brand, the iron popinjay. It was a fitting setting for the memorial, as it was here that Lagerfeld staged many of his eye-wateringly opulent shows.
He imported icebergs from Sweden for a winter scene, built a full rocket ship that took off in a finale, spread out a pristine beach for a summer collection and, once, set out a supermarché that had models shopping for Chanel groceries such as “Coco Pops” and boxes of handkerchiefs labelled “Les Chagrins de Gabrielle” (The Sorrows of Gabrielle). Lagerfeld embodied “consumerism without remorse”, says Alfons Kaiser, the author of the new biography Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Fashion.
But the private jet, the Rolls-Royce, the butler with his silver tray for the Pepsi he drank in litres, the dedicated maids for his cat Choupette, had all begun to seem outdated in his last years. Lagerfeld, in fact, kick-started fast fashion in the early 2000s by designing a low-cost range for H&M. Now the tide is turning against it, for the waste it creates and the resources it drains. At the time he died — and even pre-pandemic — people were beginning to have their fill of wastefulness and excess. Kaiser digs deeply into the designer’s life, unearthing previously unseen correspondence and conducting interviews with new sources to reveal a deeper understanding of a man who hid his roots well.
Lagerfeld grew up in a wealthy, Nazi-sympathising home in Germany with a bland father who made his fortune with evaporated milk and a frustrated, pretty, spiteful mother whom he could never please. She criticised him constantly — “Your nose is like a potato. And I think I should order curtains for the nostrils” — and even when she lived with him in grand style in Paris in her last years she could not be satisfied. Probably to shut her out, her son started drawing from the age of two, as soon as he could hold a crayon. He had no friends, but he began to read early, and could speak English, German, and French by the age of six.
Fleeing to Paris as a teenager, he was at last free to live as a gay man and an artist. He quickly won a design competition, and stepping onto the stage with him was an equally callow Yves Saint Laurent. Yet what began as a firm friendship became a poisoned enmity in later years. Lagerfeld broke the mould of couture by becoming a freelance designer, rather than staying with one house. At Balmain he learned the classic techniques of sewing and cutting, working 20 hours a day. He drew for Chloé (and made his first fortune licensing the perfume), Fendi (where he reinvented the fur), and Valentino, until he stepped in at Chanel and rescued the tottering label. No one worked as tirelessly as Lagerfeld, who married his Prussian discipline with prodigious inventiveness.
He never drank, never smoked and, if he is to be believed, never had sex. The great love of his life was a louche, aristocratic younger man named Jacques de Bascher, whom someone described as “slightly diabolical”. They were together for 17 years until de Bascher died, too young, of Aids. Lagerfeld insisted their relationship had never been consummated: “If you let boys get too close, they’ll ruin you.”
Apart from his rigorous work ethic, the secret to Lagerfeld’s long reign at the dizzy top of a dizzying world can be attributed to one thing: a relentless hunger for the new. “I am a fashion person,” he once said. “I change clothes, furniture, houses, collections. Life is about change. There is a moment when things cannot become any better; then you change.” He surrounded himself with young people, and spent hours each day in music stores listening to new music and the DJs who frequented them. He was an insatiable reader, buying between one- and two-dozen books a day, and eventually owned his own bookshop, the 7L in Paris.
In later years he became increasingly fastidious — one room in his vast apartment was dedicated to the powdering of his hair, and he ate in a separate apartment so his workplace would not smell of cooking. He had three desks for letter writing alone, in French, English, and German. His cat had two maids and a beautician. He wore fingerless gloves so he didn’t have to touch other people’s hands, and sunglasses so that people couldn’t see his eyes. His acid tongue began to get him into trouble: “I don’t have to feel ashamed of myself for working with fur. Minks are just like vicious rats.” “You’ve got fat mothers with their bag of chips sitting in front of the television saying that thin models are ugly. The world of beautiful clothing is about dreams and illusions.”
After he died, he was called a fatphobe and a misogynist, but the glittering crowd at his memorial remembered someone different. Lagerfeld was a renaissance man, a prodigious and cultivated creative talent who wanted a world of only grace and beauty, and set out to make it so. Wanted BD
Pepkor – update on impact of KZN floods
In the past few days, the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa has experienced widespread flooding as a result of heavy rainfall. This has disrupted transport infrastructure and port operations in the region.
Shareholders and noteholders are advised that from a group perspective, PEP’s Isipingo distribution centre in Durban has sustained significant damage due to the floods and supply chain operations have been adversely affected. The distribution centre has been temporarily closed to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and to commence recovery operations.
The group is not currently in a position to quantify the full extent of the losses suffered in terms of merchandise, infrastructure and disruption of operations. Adequate insurance cover is in place.
Vacancy for: Pattermaker/Markermaker
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Mr Price – acquisition of Studio 88 Group
Mr Price announced that on 12 April 2022 it entered into transaction agreements (the “Agreements”) to acquire 70% (“Sale Shares”) of Blue Falcon Trading 188 (Pty) Ltd. (“Blue Falcon”), which owns the Studio 88 group of businesses (the “Studio 88 Group” or the “Business”), from RMB Ventures Six (Pty) Ltd. (“RMB Ventures”) and current management of the Studio 88 Group (the “Transaction”). The R3.3 billion purchase consideration in relation to the Sale Shares (“Purchase Consideration”) represents approximately 6% of Mr Price’s market capitalisation at 11 April 2022. The Transaction will be fully funded through existing cash resources of the group.
The Transaction is subject to the fulfilment of both regulatory and commercial suspensive conditions, as are usual for such transactions, by no later than 31 October 2022. These conditions include competition authority approval in South Africa and other African territories.
Investor presentation and call
An investor call will be held today at 10:00am SAST to provide an overview of the Transaction, after which the presentation slides will be made available. Details of the investor call are available on the group website at www.mrpricegroup.com.
The most talked about Oscars dresses of all time
Halle Berry, 2002
The Montster’s Ball star also opted for a transparent bodice, but her Elie Saab dress (with strategic embroidery) received glowing praise. It’s now routinely cited as one of the best Oscars dresses of all time.
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