36 of 2022`

Newsletter No 36/23 September 2022                                 


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Sappi pursues high fashion with expanded Saiccor mill

By Michelle Gumede

Sappi Southern Africa CEO Alex Thiel, KwaZulu-Natal premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube, President Cyril Ramaphosa, designer Tshepo Mohlala and trade, industry & competition minister Ebrahim Patel at the official opening of the Sappi Saiccor Mill upgrade and expansion project in Umkomaas, KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: SUPPLIED

Global pulp company boosts its dominance in the textile business by expanding production of eco-friendly Lyocell

Sappi’s R7.7bn expansion of its dissolving pulp plant in KwaZulu-Natal cements the company’s position as the world leader in the manufacture of Lyocell, a cutting-edge material of the future.

The project, first announced at the Presidential Investment Conference in 2018, aims to boost the annual production capacity of dissolving pulp (DP) at Saiccor Mill by an additional 110,000 tonnes to 890,000 tonnes a year.

Lyocell is a form of rayon consisting of cellulose fibres made from dissolving pulp that is reconstituted by dry jet-wet spinning. The fully biodegradable and compostable fibre is used to make textiles.

Sappi CEO Steve Binnie said demand for renewable materials that aren’t fossil-fuel based is on the rise, particularly in the fashion industry. This is driving higher demand for viscose used in clothing and textiles, which is derived from DP.

“This expansion project not only meets customer demand for greater DP production and in particular Lyocell, but also significantly reduces the mill’s environmental footprint and supports Sappi’s decarbonisation journey,” he said. “Global demand continues to grow for renewable textiles derived from sustainable wood fibre.”

Sappi already supplies more than 50% of global demand for Lyocell, with almost all of the dissolving pulp produced at the Saiccor mill sold into the viscose staple fibres markets for use in textiles and clothing for leading brands.

The project is the group’s biggest expansion and environmental upgrade in more than 80 years as it seeks to keep up with growing demand for Lyocell and reduce its carbon footprint.

Sappi has also incorporated improved technology at the mill to reduce water consumption, improve effluent quality and reduce sulphur dioxide emissions.

The mill, which employs more than 1,200 staff and 700 contractors, is expected to generate an additional R1bn for the KwaZulu-Natal economy.

Growing clothes sustainably

As it expands to keep up with the insatiable demand for sustainable materials, Sappi has collaborated with local designer Tshepo Mohlala to produce a trial run of jeans made with Lyocell-incorporates denim fabric.

“Understanding that globally there was this movement where people are desperate for sustainable fashion … we were already playing in that space but wanted to understand Sappi’s role in the global movement,” said Mpho Lethoko McNamee, head of Sappi’s corporate affairs in SA.

“So when Tshepo approached us it was a perfect marriage of these two South African companies,” she said.

Mohlala told Business Day that the alliance arose while he was searching for sustainable fashion inputs to elevate his brand, which was already reusing offcuts to make new denim and water-efficient dyeing techniques.

“Denim is one of the most polluting industries in the world, from how cotton is being farmed to the irrigation to the post-processes,” said Mohlala.

“We wanted to create a pair of jeans that are locally grown and made in SA in the most sustainable way, enabling us to showcase our African pride to the world.”

He also said the material for their jeans is grown in the Midlands, noting that “people don’t know that clothes are grown before they are even made”.

Mohlala said incorporating Lyocell into his bespoke jeans resulted in softer, “velvety” denim, with material that is easy to work with and blends in with the heat during the process.

The jeans comprise 41% Lyocell, 40% recycled cotton, 18% organic cotton and elastane.

To date, 50 pairs of Tshepo jeans have been produced in the trial run.

Scaling up production

Now that the proof of concept phase has been rolled out, the companies are looking to scale up production, which requires securing a company that can supply the sustainable Lyocell denim fabric.

Bernhard Riegler, vice-president of marketing for Sappi’s dissolving pulp, said the next step was to secure a reliable supply chain, pointing out that SA doesn’t have any facilities that can convert the DP into fibre.

Riegler said producers in Turkey were more likely to be pursued as suppliers, owing to the strength of the Turkish garment-making industry which boasts a budding Lyocell industry.

“We like the idea of Turkey because they are also developing and there are a lot of sustainability elements they can bring to the table,” he said.

“Our focus now is to take the Verve [Sappi’s dissolving pulp brand] not just to our first line customers who … turn it into the fibre; it’s to take it through to the retailer level and to start talking to retailers and consumers about it.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who attended the official opening of the expanded mill, lauded the project as “an investment in infrastructure, people, innovation, technology and sustainability”.

The mill would advance the objectives of the Clothing Textiles Leather and Footwear (CTFL) Masterplan, which aims to increase local procurement from 44% to 65% of all CTFL sold in SA, which would increase employment in the sector by a further 120,000 jobs, Ramaphosa said.

Sappi’s share price was 1.10% lower at the close on Friday at R44.10, having risen 18.23% in the past year of trade.  BL

African Clothing partners with Walmart, Afterpay & Liberty Coca Cola

African Clothing has partnered with Walmart, Afterpay and Liberty Coca Cola to boost US-Africa trade and investments under the African Growth and opportunity Act (AGOA). It provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty free access to the US for over 1,800 products, in addition to more than 5,100 products that are eligible under the GSP programme.

Products include apparel, textile, agricultural products, dairy products, beverages, essential oils, skins and leather products, energy related products, transportation equipment among others. AGOA is expected to end on September 30, 2025.

“According to the US Census Bureau, US total goods imports under AGOA (including GSP) totalled $6.7 billion in 2021 compared to $8.4 billion in 2019. This decline was mainly the result of the lower value of oil imports. However, non-oil imports under AGOA, a major source of new investment and jobs, increased during this period to $4.8 billion in 2021 from $3.8 billion in 2019…” said ambassador Katherine Tai, United States Representative in the biennial report on the implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act in June 2022.

With the world’s fastest growing population, the largest free trade area in the world and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA), Africa is a great geopolitical opportunity for the United States. To promote opportunities available with free trade agreements for both continents, and with the support of public private organisations, Bizness Group LLC is coordinating a road show before the upcoming US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, to connect buyers and retailers to potential African suppliers and manufacturers in the fashion industry, Bizness Group said in a media release.

The event is a series of 3-day activities (panel, conference, workshops, expo, African food sampling, B2B, B2C) across different US Cities (New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas) to connect buyers and retailers interested to source in Africa to the African fashion and cosmetics manufacturers. The objective is to strengthen US-Africa trade and investments and promote African exports products eligible under AGOA. The road show is looking to attract US buyers and retailers that are interested in sourcing from Africa and/or expanding existing sourcing with AGOA trade preference in the fashion industry (apparel, textiles, footwear, home decor and cosmetics).

“We would like to thank the US department of commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency, International Trade Administration, and the Office of Textiles Administration for the support and guidance we received to prepare this initiative. We are grateful for the partnership with Walmart that gives us access to more than 5000 stores in North America. Participants will be able to purchase products or place orders using Afterpay, the leading Buy now Pay later digital payment platform offering to online and in store shoppers the possibility to pay in 4 installments over 6 weeks without interest. We are also extending our appreciation to Liberty Coca Cola, the bottler that serves the States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Connecticut as we are going to do some brands activations especially with the Coca Cola dream flavoured and enjoy some African food combo with Coke products,” said Severin Coulibaly, the organiser.  F2F

SA Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 23 Designer Collections at Mall of Africa in October 

SA Fashion Week (SAFW) will stage the Autumn/Winter 23 Collections at Mall of Africa, its home of the past three years, in October. Twenty-seven designers will launch their new collections on the runway from Thursday 20th October to Saturday 22nd October and forty will exhibit at the Trade Show on the 23rd and 24thOctober in the Crystal Court.

According to director, Lucilla Booyzen, this year marks 41 seasons since the inception of SAFW in 1997. “We remain committed to the business of fashion, of marketing and supporting our designer entrepreneurs, creatively and commercially, and most importantly, to provide a platform which gives the visibility required to access the local, and global, fashion industry.”

According to Booyzen many of the distinctive tropes that have emerged within the local fashion culture – a fascination with re-imagining our unique cultural references in a modern way, a commitment to slow and sustainable fashion, gender and body inclusivity –  are increasingly coalescing into a vibrant ethos with immense marketability. The commercial support received by trendsetting brands such as mobile phone Oppo, Cruz Vodka and Mall of Africa, with the vision to associate with this emerging fashion identity, is critical to maintain momentum.

Leemisa Tsolo, head of Asset and Property Management – Retail of Attacq Limited, the owners of Mall of Africa, believes the association with the SAFW is one of the reasons why young South Africans have selected it as the Coolest Mall for five consecutive years in the Sunday Times Generation Next Awards.

“They resonate with our vision of associating with these creative entrepreneurs who are in effect visualising South Africa’s contribution to the world of fashion.”

Cruz Vodka, too, believes that fashion reflects the culture of a country and that it’s about more than clothing. “Fashion becomes the attitude the collective wears” says Maisha Mamabolo, Brand Manager of Cruz Vodka.

According to Booyzen, the SAFW will again be a hybrid event combining runway shows at Mall of Africa as well as an online release. “We are ever grateful for the recognition and support of our partners that make this show case possible. They are:

Mall of Africa, the official home of SAFW;

Cruz Vodka, the official alcohol partner and launch party sponsor;

Mobile phone maker OPPO whose Reno 8 will take visual content-making to a new height.

Carlton Hair who sets the hair trends in South Africa;

M.A.C Cosmetics for giving us the next season’s beauty looks.”

The AW 23 collections are detailed below. Comprehensive information and detailed biographies, on each designer, may be found on their respective pages on www.safashionweek.co.za.
Day One


This year’s Cruz Collective will introduce MICHAEL LUDWIG STUDIO‘s Self-Sapien range. Working within its signature East meets Africa sensibility, the collection imagines replacing binary stereotypes & gender roles with self and unique expression using bright colours and abstract printing techniques.

Robyn Keyser’s Artclub and Friends will present another trans-seasonal and timeless collection using future-orientated materials and construction techniques. This season will see the introduction of more conceptual pieces that “tell stories of a future we are dreaming of creating and of the cities we can expect to live in” as well as a return to the official “Artclub Blue” first introduced at SAFW 2020, blended with earthier tones and new neutrals.
The Creative director of the Italian brand DROMe, Marianna Rosati, will introduce her current collection to mark the second edition of the I Ponti della Moda/Fashion Bridges collaboration between the Italian Embassy and SAFW. The project was launched in 2021 to foster collaborative partnerships between the fashion systems in South Africa and Italy.
Characteristic of her fascination with referencing her South African cultural roots, Amanda Laird Cherry returns to Durban’s iconic Victoria Street spice market, formerly known as The Indian Market, to draw inspiration from the vivid structural patterns created by the pyramid-like mounds of the spice displays for the collection’s exaggerated woven cut-outs as well for the vibrant colours mixed with traditional isiShweshwe cloth.
Still waters run deep. Hangwani Nengovhela ‘s Rubicion AW ’23 Collection taps into her Venda heritage and its natural features of the landscape such as the Phiphidi Waterfall, to express the resilience, power and strength of women who, like water, adapt to challenges by discovering new paths to flow smoothly.

Day Two

In her first collection after winning the SAFW New Talent competition in 2022, Thando Ntuli pays homage to her mother in her AW 23 Munkus collection called Umama Wami or My Mother. Using her mother as a metaphor she explores the feminine capacity to adopt a multitude of personas to remain the nurturing centre despite restrictions and challenges.

“Women are a kaleidoscope of colours. From darkness and cold, women bring light and warmth. Women bring life to any room entered. This collection aims to do show the multifaceted feminine which also includes masculine qualities. I combine various weights of cotton fabric, from light and airy to heavier such as bull denim, to convey each persona. There is a focus on technical detail and pops of conceptual print imagery of my mother.”
NTANDO XV – Johannesburg based designer
Flight – the air between layers. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel every collection, Jacques van der Watt takes an evolutionary approach to design, building on what came before. Black Coffee AW23, reimagines the most basic of closet staples and combines them with bags and accessories free of any animal products. The collection metamorphosises from more utilitarian shapes at the offset to floating exaggerated silhouettes at its completion. Underpinning everything is a larger dialogue about the re-evaluation of norms confined to male and female form.
Colour, Colour, Colour. Helon Melon AW 23 is all about the happy colours of Cape Town, executed in lightweight, compostable fabrics that allow the palette to express movement and joy. Helen Gibbs’ signature brand has grown from being a local supplier to being sold in many countries including Italy, Germany, and England at stores such as Selfridges and Beales of Manchester.
THE BAM COLLECTIVE – Pretoria based designer
Another designer celebrating the brave feminine, Belinda Venter’s Belhauzen AW 23 collection, The Audacity, draws inspiration from those women who helped create a better world by being audacious –  Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem, Malala Yousafzai, Emmeline Park and Harriet Tubman inter alia.

Using natural and recycled fabrics and season-less styling that can be dressed up or down and worn throughout the year, designs are elegant, visually powerful and above all, sustainable, timeless luxury. This season Belhauzen collaborates with like-minded Italian sneaker brand, Culture of Brave. Together they wish to share their message of audacity and freedom.
ERRE – Pretoria based Designers
Enhle Mbali’s AW 23 Essie collection takes its cue from the edgy globetrotter and international jetsetter. Simple, yet exciting, fashion-forward silhouettes imagine new frontiers and are infused with her ethos of “keep moving forward to push boundaries, never stop.”

Day Three

Laduma Ngxokolo’s Xhosa-inspired, modern design continues to propel the Maxhosa signature’s widening impact on the local and international fashion world. AW 23 will reveal yet another exciting edition of this uniquely African, contemporary identity. Leemisa Tsolo, Head of Asset and Property Management, Retail, Attacq Limited, the co-owners of Mall of Africa, says that its consumers are increasingly wanting to express a contemporary, yet uniquely African, fashion identity. “The Maxhosa success story bears testimony to this. Within a year of opening a small store on the lower level in 2018, the brand expanded to occupy its current large premise on the upper level of Mall of Africa.

“We look forward to welcoming many more designer success stories of the MaXhosa calibre in our retail offering.”


SAFW’s Scouting Menswear line-up has grown into one of the most anticipated showcases of the best emerging creative talents.

Jesmine Davids of sustainable streetwear brand Rebirth SA experiments with natural resources and digging into archive designs to “rebirth” styles, techniques, and designs. The AW 23 Coffee collection draws inspiration from her cultural roots to re-imagine the paisley pattern of her Greek lineage and the curlicues of the Koran on her Muslim side, in a palette of cream, white, Chino sand and black. Silhouettes are inspired “by the streets for the streets.” Clean T shirts and jeans feature unexpected, detailed patterns which give each garment a distinctive story.
Calvin Lunga Cebekhulu introduces a crafted collection called Wear Me with Kindness, I am Your Armor. The brand was launched in 2018 and recently became of the new additions to the Africa Rise store in Sandton City.
A graduate of Nelson Mandela University’s department of textile design, Thandazani Nofingxana combines his textile design consultancy, CHAPstudios and work as principal creative textile collaborator for IVILI Loboya, the first cashmere plant on the African continent, with developing the Abantu by Thandazani luxury brand. “I am intentional about telling the South African Xhosa culture nuances to the world”. Collections like Sithi Aba which dealt with identity and belonging in the diaspora placed him among the forty Emerging Creatives at the Design Indaba and has also seen him scoop the Mohair South Africa student competition.
Established in 2016 by Tebogo Malcolm Mokgope and Minenhle Memela, menswear brand, Refuse Clothingintertwines an African aesthetic with modern design. Committed to sustainable fashion, the signature fuses conventional textures and all-over prints with minimalist design to produce timeless classics in environmentally friendly fabrication.
Gugu Peteni is another alumni of the fashion and textile design department of Nelson Mandela university, where she earned a post-graduate degree Cum Laude in 2017. Following a career as designer and retail manager for Mohair SA, she launched her GugubyGugu Afrimodern and genderless brand in 2019 with her unapologetically bold, colourful love of experimenting with knits in natural fibers such as mohair. Previous accolades include being selected as one of the top forty South African emerging creatives of 2018 at Design Indaba as well as being one of three designers to represent South Africa at the biggest fashion platform in Africa, Lagos Fashion Week. The English translation for gugu is “to be proud of” and epitomizes her vision of creating a fashion business that will take African fashion to the world
Kagiso Matlaisane is a streetwear designer who launched her Foy Bear brand in May 2022 to explore alternative methods of developing sustainable fashion. Her AW 2023 collection will interpret “spinning”, a South African motorsport sub-culture which is a township-born version of “drifting” with sustainable garments that can be worn in multiple ways.
A collaboration between Kabelo Legodi and Sthembiso Mchunu which fuses the Ipantsula style from 1990s with its distinctive baggy silhouettes and iconic use of brands such as Florsheim and Samson with current sports luxe streetwear tropes such as street soccer and incorporating sustainable design principles such as appliqué to enhance base cloth as well as eco-friendly fabrication. “We want to recapture some of the allure of that Ipantsula era and those styles we grew up with – wanting to belong in the hood.”
Presley Jacobs and Azaria Khosa are both Fashion Design and Technology graduates from Tshwane University of Technology, who have joined forces to create this traditional knitwear with a modern twist collection for men and women.

This season’s collection is called The Street Prix taking inspiration from A1 GRAND PRIX motorsport racing. The feminine side of the alpha male biker is softened using knits while the use of off-cuts to create elaborate embroidery references the vision to align with a sustainable fashion ethos.
Inspired by the vulgar excesses of the Bullingdon Club, this collection taps into the aesthetic of “the lad”presenting a modern take on the boys’ club and updating staples associated with this style, from pinstriped tailcoats, button-ups and bow ties to cardigans, varsity bombers and rugby jerseys.
FRANC ELIS – Johannesburg based Designer collaborating with John Drake a footwear company based in KZN.


The AW 23 Ephymol collection sees Ephraim Molingoana express the confidence to create a playful, eclectic and gender fluid collection that discovers the feminine polarity of the masculine. Timeless, bespoke and luxurious remain the hallmarks of one of Jozi’s best loved designer signatures. This season Ephymol is collaborating with Hopewell Footwear based in KZN, developing shoes for his Collection.


Deeply rooted in Soweto street culture, resident creative director Ole Ledimo says “we finally came back to our senses to take ownership of what belongs to us, our God-given space in the fashion sphere” with an expressive and disruptive AW 23 collection offering opinion, statements, short stories and perspectives on the essence of streetwear.

The new collection represents a lifestyle that was born in the early 1980s in Africa and includes influences such as skateboarding, graffiti, travel, punk, hardcore, kwaito, reggae, hip hop, the emerging amapiano and club culture as well as the art scene in downtown city centre areas. The collection will be available at selected Dunn stores together with the newly launched Loxion drink that is available throughout the continent.

This season SA Fashion Week is collaboration with Poland’s Next Top Model Polska. Poland’s Next Top Model Polska is a reality competition program, where boys and girls who dream of becoming models have a chance to enter the fashion world. It is based on America’s Next Top Model format run by the legendary Tyra Banks. For the past 10 seasons Poland’s Next Top Model has been one of the most popular prime time shows in Poland. Every year 14 aspiring models fight for the grand prize and recognition in modelling. In the course of the show the best girls and boys attend one of the most coveted fashion weeks in the world. This year the top 7 will compete in castings with experienced models for an opportunity to walk the runways of South African Fashion Week.

The most talked about Oscars dresses of all time

Jennifer Lopez, 2015

J.Lo took everyone’s breath away with a peach off-the-shoulder dress designed by Elie Saab. Embellished with pearls and sequins, the Cinderella-esque ball gown had a beautiful train made of tulle.

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