28 of 2023

Newsletter No 28/21 July 2023                              





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Primark trademarks in SA attached as supply agreement battle wages on

By Katharine Child

Primark’s latest court battle is with the SA online retailer MyRunway. Picture: Carlos Jasso

SA online retailer MyRunway wants court to enforce the multiyear agreement

Trademarks belonging to UK retailer Primark have been attached by the sheriff of the court, a year after it finally got them back following a decade-long standoff with retailer Truworths.

Primark’s latest court battle is with the SA online retailer MyRunway who alleges it has stopped supplying it with stock in breach of a contract between the pair. MyRunway has asked the high court in Pretoria to enforce the multiyear agreement. The court has since attached the local trademarks, to give them jurisdiction over the case.

SA site MyRunway.co.za, started by a husband and wife team in a Sea Point apartment, has grown into a substantial business, selling mostly designer labels and imported products online. It started selling Primark clothing in December 2021, with the latter’s support.

When the supply dried up, MyRunway turned to the court where Primark has said there is no existing contract between the parties.

“While Primark undertook to negotiate with MyRunway in an effort to reach agreement on the supply of product, the parties failed to reach any agreement. It is for the court now to ultimately resolve this issue,” Primark said.

In order for the case against the retailer, headquartered in Ireland, to go ahead, Primark’s local assets needed to be attached to give the court in SA jurisdiction. 

Hahn & Hahn lawyer Vanessa Lawrance, not involved in this case, said in order to take a foreign company to court, the company needs to have some assets in SA that could be attached and sold should the lawsuit succeed.

Trademark asset

“A trademark is an asset and can be seized like any [other] asset,” she said. 

If Primark loses the case, MyRunway will be able to sell the assets to satisfy its case against them, Lawrance said. In the meantime while the case makes its way through the courts, the Primark trademark cannot be sold and nothing can be done with it, she said, while MyRunway will need to prove Primark is in breach of contract.

Despite Primark not having a presence in SA its trademark, which was first registered here in 1976, has been before the local courts for a decade. 

Clothing retailer Truworths in 2013 tried to register the same trademark, but was told it was owned by Primark, which operates in European countries and the US with more than 400 stores in total. 

Truworths, however, went to court to have it expunged as SA law allows a trademark to be removed if it has not been used for five years. 

Truworths won the case against Primark at the appellate court in 2018 as Primark had no intention of operating in SA. However, in 2019 Primark attempted to register its trademark again.

In 2020, Truworths started opening Primark stores, unrelated to the UK firm.


The case eventually ended in an undisclosed settlement between the pair in 2021, but led to Truworths rebranding its Primark stores to Sync.

My Runway believes it was used to sell original Primark clothes locally in 2021, until a settlement with Truworths was reached. 

MyRunway says in a note about the case: “Ironically, it was only after Primark partnered with MyRunway that Primark finally managed to settle the dispute over the ownership of their trademarks.

“Despite MyRunway being crucial in Primark’s success, and working closely together for months, Primark unexpectedly failed to honour their own multiyear distribution agreement with MyRunway the very same month in which they finally settled the dispute regarding the rights to the Primark trademarks.

“It seems shipments to MyRunway were unceremoniously halted at the moment of their triumph.”

MyRunway MD Rob Noble told Business Day: “It’s unfortunate that the courts were needed to resolve this issue. Primark required help with their trademark dispute, and gave us a proposal built around their need to stand up for their ethics and values … We agreed to come on board and had a great relationship for months, meeting with them regularly in Ireland.

“We spoke at length about mutual benefits beyond just our exclusive distributor agreement.”

He said MyRunway was committed to bolstering Primark’s brand presence in SA and conducted extensive market research at their request.

“We continue to believe in the potential of the brand, as our customers rushed to snap up the Primark product when it was available.”

Primark told Business Day it works to protect its brand “to avoid misrepresentation and consumer confusion”.  






School of Fashion adds short courses to offering

Image source: Wavebreak Media Ltd – 123RF.com

The Stadio School of Fashion is launching new short courses designed to provide flexible and accessible learning opportunities, which aim to empower individuals with the skills needed to thrive in South Africa’s fashion economy.

These short courses cover a diverse range of topics, allowing students to tailor their learning experience to their specific interests and career goals. Whether through on-campus contact learning, online-assisted programs facilitated by industry experts, or self-study courses, Stadio offers flexibility and practicality to suit every individual’s needs.

“Our mission is to cultivate a new generation of fashion innovators, creative problem solvers, and industry leaders,” said Leonardo Snyman, head of Campus: Johannesburg and Pretoria at Stadio School of Fashion. “By offering these short courses, we are opening the doors to individuals who want to gain new skills or enhance their existing foundation in the dynamic world of fashion.”

Course content

On-campus contact learning programmes include the Design Studio package, which comprises three core practical fashion modules: Garment Construction, Pattern Design, and Creative Design. This 10-week full-time programme aims to provide students with a solid foundation in fashion design principles and techniques, preparing them for potential careers in the industry.

For those already working in the fashion industry, Stadio School of Fashion offers online short learning programmes, including Fashion Entrepreneurship, A Sustainable Fashion Future for Southern Africa, Adobe Illustrator for Fashion Design, and Principles of Styling. Led by industry experts who serve as mentors, these programmes provide valuable insights and industry-relevant content to enhance participants’ knowledge and skills.

Additionally, Stadio School of Fashion offers online self-study short learning programmes, allowing students to unlock new career opportunities at their own pace. Courses such as Visual Merchandising, Textiles, and Trends provide specialised knowledge and skills that elevate professionals’ resumes or a trendsetter’s portfolio in the ever-evolving fashion landscape.

Stadio School of Fashion’s Short Courses are open to all, welcoming individuals with a passion for fashion and a desire to explore new horizons within their careers, or prospective ventures in fashion or apparel. With a strong emphasis on practicality, industry engagement, and immersive learning experiences, these courses prepare students to become sought-after professionals in fashion design, fashion media, and the business industries.

The Stadio School of Fashion is internationally accredited by the British Accreditation Council (BAC).   Bizcommunity







Barbiecore rules, but can it be sustained?

By Sandiso Ngubane

As the Mattel doll’s big screen debut looms, the world is going gaga, from fashion to interiors

You would have to be completely detached from any kind of reality if you didn’t know that a Barbie movie is releasing soon. That’s right. The now 64-year-old, Mattel-owned fashion doll is getting her own Margot Robbie-starring, Greta Gerwig-directed big-screen adaptation, which opens in South African cinemas on July 21. If all the memes, social media chatter, and box office prediction are anything to go by, Barbie is already one of the year’s biggest blockbusters, with a projected $80m box office opening weekend.

Per the Bloomberg-reported words of Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz: “It’ll be very hard to be on Planet Earth and not know this movie’s coming out.”

Kreiz is the man responsible for getting Barbie on the big screen having bucked a trend of Mattel executives who thought a cinematic turn would hurt the brand. This logic seems incredibly out of step with reality, considering the oceans of evidence that selling well-known intellectual property (IP) to Hollywood studios works wonders (see Marvel and Transformers).

The trend’s emergence

As we witness Barbie’s dominance of popular culture, everywhere, from fashion to interior design, there are signs that Barbiecore, the hot pink trend that derives its name from Barbie’s affinity for it, will remain a staple for the time being. I say “remain” because the trend precedes any mainstream chatter about the movie, with some observers tracing its current emergence back to Valentino’s Autumn 2022 ready-to-wear collection. The 81-looks collection was predominantly pink, and soon enough, social media trends, specifically on TikTok and Pinterest, pointed towards the popularity of this bright hue.

On Hollywood red carpets, magazine covers and Instagram feeds, everyone from Gabriele Union, Emma Chamberlain and Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, to Anne Hathaway and Lizzo turned up in hot pink. Margot Robbie — Barbie herself — has been spotted in the hue many times more than anyone else in the past year, probably as some form of subliminal marketing strategy. The movie’s release therefore only serves to further intensify the Barbiecore trend’s mainstream appeal.

This resurgent obsession with Barbie (and pink) — followed by years of plummeting sales, as Mattel seemed unable to regain mainstream cultural relevance — can also be found in interior design. In 2022, Architectural Digest specifically noted the “hyper-pink” trend permeating the worlds of interior and furniture design. Barbie’s dream house, anyone?

A more mature approach to the trend

It’s perhaps worth noting that a slight variation of the colour — viva magenta — is Pantone’s current colour of the year, with the institute noting that it is a “pulsating colour whose exuberance promotes joyous and optimistic celebration…. It is an animated red that revels in pure joy, encouraging experimentation, and self-expression without restraint.”

For the adults in the room, who might find the hot pink Barbiecore hue a bit too imposing, perhaps viva magenta can serve as a more acceptable option for tapping into the escapism of this trend cycle.

The recent pandemic is really what most observers attribute to the desire for escapism that this underscores, meaning Gerwig’s Barbie is right on time to play on our nostalgia. This is what the studios are hoping will put bums on seats come July 21, with lots of adults who grew up with Barbie dolls queuing up alongside much younger girls hoping to catch a glimpse of Barbie’s fantastic-plastic world.

Barbie’s future relevance

It’s a boon for Mattel — capturing the cultural zeitgeist in this way after years of losing market share to the likes of Bratz and other toys as Barbie failed to remain at the forefront of social progress over the past few decades.

Whereas last century, Barbie, with her ambition and high-flying career womanhood served as a vision of what the future may look like for little girls, in a world where their mothers have themselves become empowered, that role became somewhat obsolete. Barbie couldn’t quite find her pink-stiletto heeled feet in the context of being just one of many symbols of female aspiration. In the 2010s, attempts at tapping into diversity — a burning social issue — by releasing more dolls of different races and body types helped, but only a smidgeon. Last decade was simply too late as the Bratz had already stepped into that vacuum as early as the 2000s.

Reports say several sequels to the Barbie film are planned, so only time will tell if the brand can remain relevant for decades to come. In essence, will the film franchise continue to rely on the nostalgia of yesteryear’s little girls, who are today much older women, or will it find resonance with a new generation — one that is empowered, but continues to face challenges in the form of regressive laws (for example, the US Supreme Court overturning the right to abortion) and stubborn social ills, such as the gender-based violence that plagues South Africa. For now — of course — with a trend named after her and first theatrically released film taking flight, Barbie and Barbiecore rule the world. 





Truworths – changes to the board

The board of directors of the company (“board”) announced the appointment of Mr Wayne Muller and Ms Daphne Motsepe as independent non- executive directors of the company, with effect from 1 August 2023.

Independent Non-Executive Director Retirement
The board further announced that Ms Maya Makanjee has given notice of her intention not to stand for re-election as an independent non-executive director of the company, at the company’s annual general meeting scheduled for 2 November 2023 (“AGM”), and will accordingly retire from the board at the AGM.



Rex True – preference share dividend

A cash dividend (“preference share dividend”) on the 6% cumulative preference shares (“preference shares”) for the six months ending 30 June 2023 at the rate of 6% per annum (6.00 cents per preference share) has been declared and will be paid on Monday, 7 August 2023 to all holders of preference shares





Women’s nominal clothing sizes have increased in physical size over the years in a phenomenon known as “vanity sizing.”  A size 8 dress with a 32-inch bust in 1967 is now considered a size 0 today.





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