20 of 2022`

Newsletter No 20/27 May 2022                                 


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The Age of Celebrity is all show and zero performance

By Sandiso Ngubane

Social Media is killing the celebrity fashion icon

“Are we in the boring era of celebrity?”

This is a question one columnist over at Refinery29.com grapples with in a recently published article following this year’s Met Gala. Lamenting the boring state of red carpet fashion, the writer quotes several Twitter observations, supporting the argument that celebrities have become … well … boring, and red carpet fashion more so.

Gone are the times when red carpets used to surprise and delight. “Someone please bring back the era of club kids and fashion icons,” one quoted tweet says. That’s perhaps one solution, but it’s near impossible to see how this could happen at a time when celebrity itself is no longer the exclusive purview of those in the creative arts — performers in film, music and the like.

Almost two decades into the social media era, Andy Warhol’s declaration that “in the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes” has become a reality and the very allure of celebrity has all but collapsed. With it, the creativity that brings about the surprise and delight we’ve come to expect.

As has been reported by the likes of outlets like Business of Fashion, by the time celebrities step onto any red carpet, a lot of behind the scenes wheeling and dealing between celebrity image-makers — the stylists — their agents and brands has taken place.

Sure, celebrities have, for a long time, served as IRL mannequins for luxury brands, but where it used to be that the red carpet was an opportunity for brands to get that one unforgettable image of a celebrated figure in their garments, the onslaught of media coming at us daily and the accessibility of celebrities via their Instagram and Tik Tok feeds means by the time they step onto the red carpet, the selfsame celebrities and what they are up to is old news. It certainly doesn’t hold the same weight it did when, say, Jennifer Lopez donned that famous green Versace number.

In a quest to convey their authenticity through accessibility, celebrities have mostly become no different to us mere mortals posting videos and images of what we had for breakfast and what gift landed at some influencer’s doorstep from a retail or luxury brand.

Few are watching events like the Academy Awards or Golden Globes, really, no doubt partly because the images and the news will be beamed across social media feeds in real time anyway. It makes no difference if a particular look is seen on Zendaya or any number of social media influencers with millions of followers. It will be forgotten within a matter of hours as the Twittersphere moves on to the next thing, whatever that may be.

Red carpets no longer inspire awe because they haven’t evolved beyond that no longer novel opportunity to capture a moment and sell an image. In a culture driven by a barrage of imagery the very idea of creating moments is far less about creating art and more about social media talkability — likes and follows.

A case in point: Kim Kardashian appears on the Met Gala red carpet in the historic sparkly gown worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang “happy birthday” to then US president John F Kennedy. Reportedly, due to the delicate condition of the half-century-old dress she had to lose weight to get into, she’s only seen in it ascending the Met Gala staircase and quickly changes into a replica.

I can’t think of a better metaphor for the convoluted, uninspired mess that has become image making in the current era. Sure, Kim Kardashian and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum — the owners who loaned the dress to her — get to be spoken about for a while but creating a classic moment in the same way Marilyn did in the same dress is the result of performance; an element Kardashian’s donning of the dress is devoid of.

I’m not speaking about performance in the sense that she was literally delivering a song, but in the sense that, in that dress, she became the moment. Rihanna did something similar in the now iconic Guo Pei yellow dress with a fur-trimmed train at the 2015 Met Gala. She didn’t recreate a moment; she became it.

Fast forward seven years later and we’re still waiting on another moment like that, that will be burnished in memory as something beyond just talkability. It truly is a boring era of celebrity — lots of fashion, very little performance and certainly few moments. 

Youth LaunchPad – Craft and Design Institute (CDI) to place over 200 interns in creative SMMEs

The CDI is calling for applications from businesses for a new round of its Youth LaunchPad project, a unique programme that places interns in SMMEs in the creative industries to support increased capacity and pave for the way for new job creation.

This represents a great opportunity for business owners nationally to bring in key skills needed into your businesses, in a subsidised manner, which can help you achieve greater sustainability and growth.

The CDI Youth LaunchPad programme places unemployed matriculants and graduates in SMMEs; it supports work readiness, on-the-job and skills development training; as well as supports business owners to develop the systems and HR capacity to manage staff.

The CDI first ran the Youth LaunchPad in 2019/20, which created 149 work-opportunities for youth in 92 businesses.

The CDI is scaling the programme up in 2022 through funding received through the National Pathway Management Network (NPMN) Innovation Fund, a component of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention’s (PYEI) National Pathway Management Network (NPMN), a “network of networks” aimed at facilitating the successful transition of young people into and through the labour market. CDI applied for funding from the NPMN Innovation Fund in November last year and has been awarded a contract to implement.

The Department of Employment and Labour is responsible for the National Pathway Management Network, and the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund is the appointed Fund Manager.

The City of Cape Town is a matched funder.

We hope many more businesses will access this opportunity.

“We understand that small business owners can benefit from additional capacity to support their business goals, but it can be a daunting step to take to employ new staff. The CDI Youth LaunchPad helps businesses manage some of the initial financial risk while providing the business with support to get their human resource management systems in place and provides valuable work experience to local youth.

In a 100% of the cases in our pilot project, the participating youth were able to launch themselves on their career trajectory – whether they were absorbed into the SMME, found another job they were better suited to, started their own business or decided to go study. In turn, the majority of businesses found themselves in a stronger position to increase their business capacity and manage staff.
A win-win all round!”

– Erica Elk, Group CEO, CDI

“With youth accounting for about 60% of South Africa’s unemployed, partnerships such as these are essential if we are to respond effectively to the youth unemployment crisis.

The CDI Youth LaunchPad is consistent with the core aims of the NPMN, which is to pathway unemployed young people into sustainable opportunities while benefitting small businesses in their efforts to contribute to the broader economy.”

– Najwah Allie-Edries, Head of the Jobs Fund

Business owners can recruit interns for any area of need in their business – including in key areas to assist their growth such as office/business administration, production, and marketing/sales, amongst others.

Applications are open at: https://www.thecdi.org.za/YouthLaunchpad

The deadline for applications is 30 May 2022

TFG reports robust growth and gains in market share

By Katharine Child & Karl Gernetzky

Clothing manufacturer and retailer TFG, owner of Foschini, Markham and @home, saw sales increase by nearly a third for its 2021 year amid a recovery in UK markets, where it struggled during lockdown and closed a fifth of its stores.

In a voluntary trading statement, TFG said sales for the 2021 year to end-March were up 31.7% from 2020.

The trading statement shows a strong turnaround from 2020 when TFG recorded its first operational loss and closed stores in all three of its markets but raised almost R4bn in a rights issue.

Most notably, UK sales in rand terms rose 57.3%. In 2021, it was forced to close 230 stores there after it struggled in stringent lockdowns that resulted in weak demand. It had to impair R2.7bn of its investment in the UK. This is a balance sheet adjustment that reflects it does not think its UK stores will generate as much future income as previously expected.

Its UK brand Hobbs and Whistles, a seller of formal women’s wear, saw consumers shun its products as they worked from home and parties were cancelled during lockdown.

Its fourth quarter in the UK, coming off a low base, saw retail turnover growth of 91.6% compared to the same quarter in the previous year.

In total for the year ended in March, the retailer expects its headline earnings per share to be 991.9c-1,011.6c, up from 197.9c.

TFG, which generated 69% of its turnover in Africa in 2021, also has divisions in Europe and Australia. As of 2021, the Africa division included 2,710 stores in SA, 110 in Namibia and 44 in Botswana. The group also operates in Zambia, Lesotho and Eswatini.

In Africa, the group said its growth was supported by its strong localised clothing supply chain and sourcing model, which provided valuable insulation against international supply chain disruptions.

The retailer also issued a fourth-quarter trading update.

TFG says easing Covid-19 restrictions helped retail sales grow almost a quarter during the three months to end-March, with its Africa division booking a record performance.

Retail turnover grew 23.7% to end-March, the group’s fourth quarter, with TFG Africa growing 16.1% in rand terms, something that was indicative of further significant market-share gains.

By the close of trade on Friday, TFG’s share price had fallen the most in more than three weeks, down 3.09% to R194.49.  BL

Massmart – sales update

Total group sales for Massmart for the 19-week period ended 8 May 2022 amounted to R30.4 billion, a decrease of 0.2% over the prior year, with comparable store (like-f or-like) sales increasing by 2.3% over the same period. Comparable stores sales exclude the impact of those stores opened or closed during the period, including those stores impacted by the unrest in July 2021.
Sales from continued operations, which excludes Cambridge, Rhino and Massfresh, amounted to R27.9 billion, an increase of 1.4% over the prior year period, with comparable store sales f or continued operations increasing by 3.9%. Sales relating to our continued operations in South Africa increased by 1.6%, with comparable stores sales increasing by 4.4%, whilst sales from continued operations in our stores in the Rest of Africa decreased by 0.6% on a total and comparable stores basis.

Misdeclaration of sugar, textile & tyres

Tshwane, 26 May 2022 – The Illicit Trade Unit (ITU) of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in Durban has clamped down on an importer of 20 containers of sugar that were declared as containing rice, which is duty free.

However, after verification and inspection of the identified containers it was established that the consignments were falsely declared in order to escape paying the Customs duties for the sugar.

In a second incident, the ITU in Durban detained five containers that were imported by a known tyre company. It was suspected that the importer had mis-declared the goods in order to avoid paying the correct Customs duties and to comply with the International Trade Administration Council (ITAC) permit requirements.

According to the Customs declaration, the containers were classified as rim and tyres, which does not attract any duties. An inspection was conducted at a licenced depot and the containers were found to contain tyres which attracts 30% duty, an environment levy and which require an ITAC permit.

In a third incident, the ITU team in Gauteng received information about 21 containers imported by several importers and which were  suspected to have been mis-declared as steel pipes, furniture, toys, and articles of plastics.

The 21 containers were detained and inspected and it was discovered that of the 21 containers only 3 containers were declared correctly, with 18 containers being falsely declared. Instead of steel pipes, furniture, toys and articles of plastics as declared by the clearing agent, 18 containers were found to contain fabric rolls, pile fabric that is used to manufacture blankets, blanket making machinery as well as possible counterfeit goods.  SARS will be pursuing potential criminal charges for all above false and misleading declarations.

The SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter expressed his gratitude to the members of the Illicit Trade Unit for their tireless work. He issued a stern warning to traders who are engaged in non-compliant behaviour, which borders on criminality. He said, “SARS is improving its capability and capacity to detect non-compliant behaviour, and will continue to make it hard and costly for those that have opted to resort to criminality. Those who voluntarily engages in criminality would have to accept the consequences of their choices”.

For more information, please contact SARSMedia@sars.gov.za

The most talked about Oscars dresses of all time

Tilda Swinton, 2008

Cosmo later wrote, “Please save Tilda from the black velvet garbage bags holding her body hostage.” It’s safe to say she did not make the best dressed list.

 Click here to see fact sheet with advertising rates. 

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