21 of 2017

Newsletter No.21    029June 2017

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TCI Apparel Design Centre positions Cape Town as a leader in Green Manufacturing

Trade Call Investments Apparel (TCIA), one of South Africa’s leading apparel design and manufacturing companies will unveil their new design centre in Epping, Cape Town on the 9th of June 2017. Using industry leading practices to lower its carbon footprint, the building will be a state of the art production centre for local retailers such as Woolworths, Truworths, Edcon Group and Queenspark, as well as international retailers like Top Shop, River Island, Superdry and Urban Outfitters to name a few.

“The garment industry has, in recent years, been one of the largest contributors to global carbon emissions. For this reason, we found it to be of the utmost importance to reduce the environmental impact of our operations in every conceivable way – from operations and processes to architecture and furniture choices.” says Herman Pillay, CEO of TCI Apparel. “We are delighted that we are able to position South Africa as a leader in green manufacturing.”

Fittingly so, as Cape Town has seen a positive trend towards environmental awareness in architecture, the new TCI Apparel Design Centre is decidedly en vogue in this regard. Sustainability and sensitivity to the environment formed part of the design ethos from the beginning. The Design Centre is the first industrial building of its kind with a sharp focus on being environmentally sensitive, this is achieved through green building practices and the use of eco vinyl tiles, LED lighting, solar power, indoor plants, strategically tinted windows which retains heat in winter and expels in summer, environmentally sensitive ceiling boards, living walls and a vegetable garden that will be utilised by the canteen providing meals for employees. The furniture in the centre is locally produced and made of recycled plastic, wood and steel; hereby supporting local industry as well as greatly lowering their carbon footprint. Given the current water crisis in the Western Cape, the design centre has been engineered to save every possible drop. By utilising borehole water for ablutions and redirecting rainwater that would otherwise have gone unused into 40000 litre storage tanks, TCI Apparel are not only saving what’s left of the frightfully limited municipal supply but also cutting the costs of producing some of the world’s top brands without cannibalising quality.

The local manufacturing sector has been struggling to combat global competition, diminishing the local job pool even further as local retailers turn to international suppliers for cheaper goods. TCI Apparel was created as a response to this problem; when Seardel Apparel – a company founded in 1957, which at its peak employed over 20000 people – was on the brink of closing down and leaving over 2270 people without jobs, TCI Apparel was formed, subsequently reviving the struggling business. This not only saved many of the existing jobs but created 1300 additional jobs. This was a much-needed lifesaver to many employees who were facing uncertainty at a time when retrenchments had become the norm in the sector (between 2005 and 2014, 91000 jobs were lost in the “textiles, clothing, leather and footwear” manufacturing sector nationally).

TCI Apparel have been able to provide thousands with not only employment, but also job security. This is a massive boon given the current economic climate and is largely due to their close working relationship with their customers. As opposed to buyers coming in and merely selecting items or sending a prototype to be replicated for mass production; they aim to work closer together from the design phase to collaborate in product development. CEO Herman Pillay is very proud of this fact, “We pride ourselves on the relationships we hold with our customers, creating garments alongside them as opposed to just selling to them ensures they always get precisely what their consumers want.”

“With a keen advocacy for sustainable fashion and the ultimate goal of securing jobs in the local sector, we have created a world-class clothing and textile value chain within Africa.” Says Herman Pillay. “I feel that, as business owners and entrepreneurs, if we put our focus on our homeland and our own people the results will be a sustainable and stable economy. We need to be doing more to empower and improve our society.”

TFG acquires Australian menswear group RAG

TFG has acquired Australian menswear group Retail Apparel Group (RAF) for close to R3bn. TFG says its acquisition of RAG further broadens its international expansion into chosen geographical areas with a product and value offering that is well aligned with TFG’s multi-brand business model.

RAG was established in 1987 and houses a portfolio of predominantly menswear brands, making it a large player in the value to mid-market, fashion-conscious menswear speciality segment in Australia and New Zealand. It also has a women’s athleisure range. RAG’s portfolio incorporates five brands, namely: Tarocash, yd, Connor, Johnny Bigg and Rockwear.

According to the official release, “RAG is expected to post double-digit increases in revenue and profit this year, with expectations that the growth will continue in line with the company’s expansion strategy. The majority of RAG’s 400 stores are located in high foot traffic areas within regional and suburban shopping centres, with RAG’s centralised management team allowing the group to leverage its relationships with key landlords to obtain premium sites.”

The South African retailer is buying 100% of the Australian chain from private equity group Navis Capital and RAG’s founder Stephen Leibowitz along with other members of management. The current management team of RAG have all entered into new employment contracts with TFG, to ensure operational continuity going forward.

“We are excited to be able to realise our ambition to expand into Australasia through the very successful RAG business and its well established and experienced management team,” said chief executive officer of TFG, Doug Murray.

Chief executive of RAG, Gary Novis, said: “We are delighted to become partners with one of the world’s leading retail groups and our management team is excited to be part of what will be a very successful future for our company in Australasia.”

This breathable workout suit helps you cool down after a sweaty gym session

Researchers at MIT use living cells to give this unique garment a cool advantage.

In 2016, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a method of rapidly designing complex, DNA-encoded circuits that would allow them to assign new functions to live cells. Able to be quickly produced in vast quantities, these live cells can perform multiple functions, such as responding to specific environmental conditions. Now, researchers from the same institution have utilised these cells in the development of a new, breathable workout suit.

Termed bioLogic, the project was led by Wen Hang, a former research scientist at MIT’s Media Lab and Department of Chemical Engineering. According to his research, the cultivated, moisture-sensitive cells require no additional elements to sense and respond to humidity. After observing the tendency of live cells to alter their structures in the presence of humidity, Hang and his team were certain these could aid in the development of a moisture-responsive fabric.

Working with a common, nonpathogenic strain of E. coli, the researchers observed it swell and shrink in response to moisture. These live cells were then printed onto sheets of rough, natural latex which was then worked into a wearable garment. The resulting running suit features cell-lined latex ventilation flaps; the size and degree to which they open are specifically tailored to areas of the body where heat and sweat are produced.


“People may think heat and sweat are the same, but in fact, some areas like the lower spine produce lots of sweat but not much heat,” explains former graduate student and bioLogic team member Lining Yao. “We redesigned the garment using a fusion of heat and sweat maps to, for example, make flaps bigger where the body generates more heat.”

Able to sense and react to humidity in the air just above the skin, special support barriers prevent the garment’s inner cell layer from making direct contact with the wearer’s skin – while the cells themselves have been proven perfectly safe to touch and even consume.

The bioLogic team has also succeeded in integrating this moisture-responsive fabric into a prototype of a running shoe and they are now looking to collaborate with sportswear companies to commercialise their products.

Lindsay Samson

Did you know….

An apparel or any item is considered vintage only if it is made 20 – 100 years ago. “Retro” refers to clothing or item made to replicate a vintage pattern or style of a different period.

The 4 major International Fashion Shows takes place in the following order – first in New York then London, followed by Milan and the last is in Paris. Each of these cities hold a fashion show twice in a year– February & September.

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