39 of 2022`

Newsletter No 39/14 October 2022

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How fashion houses are responding to a future that’s asking for more

By Errica Iacopini

Valentino ‘The Beginning’, the latest Valentino Haute Couture collection.
Image: Supplied

Fashion houses are having to marry their heritage with a revolution in the making.

As the European summer came to a bitter-sweet end, September hailed the start of the fashion season — one that saw the catwalk calendar full after two years of Covid restrictions.

The fashion world is back to business as usual. Fashion is a reflection of the reality in which it operates. With the constant state of flux globally amid rising oil prices, inflation, war, and political turmoil, it is no surprise that the fashion world is asking itself what the future will look like. Past, present, and future have always been important subject matters, and are becoming even more so today as brands deal with an ever-evolving fashion industry, as well as increasingly sophisticated consumers who are not afraid to make demands of their most beloved brands.

Traditional business strategies have had to change, making way for marketing strategies on apps such as TikTok and the launch of endless NFT projects. Advances in technology have transformed manufacturing, ensuring that sustainability is at the forefront. The future post-Covid is filled with many “what ifs” and, more importantly, “hows” — how to move forward and how to remain relevant. Brands are having to merge their DNA and heritage with a future asking for more collaboration, gender fluidity, inclusivity, and the pushing of boundaries of what has been socially acceptable until now.

Take, for example, Chloé creative director Gabriela Hearst, who has put sustainability at the heart of her collections, using upcycled fabrics such as tweed, cashmere, and corduroy, or Balenciaga creative director Demna, who opened his FW22/23 with a poem he had written offering social commentary on the Ukrainian plight. The fashion scene is seeing not one but a gamut of revolutionary changes.

The future has also become more personal for many creative directors of luxury brands post-Covid as they grapple with shifting those brands’ heritage to the present in order to express a new future. Heritage, however, remains a comforting element for luxury brands, as seen with Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, who paid homage to the roots of the maison with his haute couture collection for Altaroma in July, “The Beginning”, while also launching Valentino Archive, a collection of re-interpreted iconic Valentino looks, true to their past and yet directed towards the future.

Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, continues to play with the past while presenting it in a new light, thereby continuing his evolution of the Gucci brand. His fashion show “Cosmogonie”, which took place in Castel del Monte in Puglia, Italy, testified to Michele’s vision of the world, one prompted by a quote from German philosopher Walter Benjamin: “It’s not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present its light on what is past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation.”

The show brought together aesthetics from distant eras and various geographies while keeping Gucci’s heritage alive. Emerging designers, whose studies and work experiences have been uprooted by the pandemic, are also asking themselves what the future looks like. After all, it is these young designers who represent the future creative directors, courtiers, and trailblazers of the fashion industry. Altaroma’s Who Is On Next? contest, in collaboration with Vogue Italia, showcased not only menswear and womenswear but also a series of genderless and sustainable proposals — a staple in today’s fashion platform.

While the future may be scary and jarring at times, fashion has come a long way

The future of fashion is bridging the distance between cultures — one has only to think of the design conversation between local wunderkind Thebe Magugu and Piccioli for Vogue’s second dress-swop initiative (the first featured Japanese designer Tomo Koizumi and John Galliano for Maison Margiela). Both designers had to re-imagine a garment of the other: Piccioli created a beautiful mantle inspired by Renaissance culture and the figure of the Madonna, while Magugu transformed a ballgown worn by Tracee Ellis Ross for the 2018 Emmy Awards into a piece inspired by a purely African context. The result was two magnificent pieces born from each designer’s personal creative vision. More importantly, the initiative showcased the power of fashion as a form of self-expression and cultural dialogue.

While the future may be scary and jarring at times, fashion has come a long way. Not only does it reflect our present but it also offers a welcome glimpse into a world we may not see yet.  

Cape Union Mart Group launches design studio to drive localisation

By Lauren Hartzenberg

Credit: Tegan Smith Photography

Credit: Tegan Smith Photography

With a goal to produce 65% of products locally by 2028, the Cape Union Mart Group has launched the Green Thread Studio, a creative hub to facilitate the growth of local clothing design and production

The design studio will be the core design and production hub for Poetry, Old Khaki and Keedo, and its establishment has created 220 jobs in manufacturing and 33 in design.

“We have a multi-billion rand investment in this country. We’ve got a massive distribution centre, we’ve got two factories that employ nearly 600 people. We have some 300 stores, and we have over 3,300 employees. We are totally committed to South Africa,” Cape Union Mart Group’s executive chairman Philip Krawitz said at the launch event.

The family-owned retail group plans to provide its retailers with more product lines that can be made locally at a competitive price, with the same (or better) quality standards expected from international suppliers. By accelerating localisation efforts, it also aims to support communities with job opportunities and generate more business for local fabric and trim SMME suppliers.

The group has set itself the target of running 280,000 units and 385 styles through the design studio in 2023, and aims to grow this to 360,000 units with more than 500 styles in 2024.

“We’re more than just creating jobs, we’re thinking ahead. We’ve always sent buyers overseas to see what styles are available … What’s wrong with us? We’ve got great creative people, people with incredible imagination and wonderful taste. We have to change the negative mindset that everyone overseas is better, because local is lekker. Let’s have faith in South African design and creativity…” said Krawitz.

The Green Thread Studio will give the company better control over the evolution of product creation, and allows for closer collaboration between buyers, designers and production teams.

Krawitz added, “Most of the big retailers are wanting to convert more production locally, especially on the back of a challenging two years which has made everyone aware of the risks of supply chain. To produce locally, businesses need to have the correct set-up to support this strategy, and we wanted to set ourselves up for this growth according to best practice.”

Cape Union Mart Group executive chairman Philip Krawitz. Credit: Tegan Smith Photography

Cape Union Mart Group executive chairman Philip Krawitz. Credit: Tegan Smith Photography

Upskilling new talent

Growing local production often requires an investment in manufacturing training to allow for the transfer of technical skills developed by previous generations of pattern makers, cutters and machinists who worked in SA’s apparel industry when it was globally competitive. Training can also equip manufacturers and suppliers to build production capacity sustainably.

Cape Union Mart Group owns two factories in Cape Town – K-Way Manufacturers in Ottery, which produces for Cape Union Mart, and Green Thread Manufacturers in Paarden Eiland, which produces for the group’s other retail brands and from which the new design studio has been created.

The group has been aiding the introduction of fresh talent into the clothing manufacturing industry, with facilities to train and upskill newcomers with the aim of creating employment for them.

There is a great focus on ensuring the machinists are multi-skilled and able to flex to different commodities as the needs and demands change relating to trend and supply. According to the company, this is a major consideration in safeguarding the success of the group owning its own CMTs.

Streamlining production: from conception to creation

As a design-led retail group, it made sense to invest more in the design segment of the business, Shelley Prinsloo, GM of Poetry and Green Thread Studio, said during the event. She explained that having the design operation previously located in Paarden Eiland wasn’t ideal, and that bringing the design centre closer to the head office could improve collaboration so that “every design element was considered and designed from conception stage to production.”

Now, with the Green Thread design studio located alongside the retail group’s head office in the Cape Town city centre, it provides the opportunity for buyers and designers to work closely side-by-side on creating and reworking products as needed.

On the ground floor of the design studio is a small factory focused on pre-production manufacturing, shortening the time between conception of an idea to the mock-up of a product. By producing more locally, Cape Union Mart believes it can improve efficiency and ramp up speed to market.

Prinsloo said, “We’re conscious about streamlining our production lead times. For every style that you create there are often multiple samples that get exchanged between the buying team and the supplier. What the design centre enables is for the buyers and designers to work closely together. It eliminates some of the wastage and it also reduces carbon emissions because we’re not transporting samples all around the world.”

Sustainability was a core value that drove the creation of the Green Thread Studio. According to the group, it’s now better equipped to develop and evolve its fabrics and fabric prints with a focus on increasing the number of sustainable fabrics used.

Determined to eliminate materials going to landfill, the group employs a minimal waste approach where fabric off-cuts are upcycled to minimise the amount of waste that occurs through sampling. About 500kg of offcuts are rewoven and reused monthly by the group, and scraps are also donated to NGOs that upcycle them into products that they sell.

“Sustainability is really a journey on its own and we’re learning as we go. We’re bringing it to the forefront of our thinking. Our design ethos has always been to put endurance, style and quality first, and this ethos has given birth to our commitment to sustainability,” Prinsloo said.    Bizcommunity

A special apparel wear range for fitness enthusiasts by Hi-Tec

By Thembi Sibisi

When it comes to clothes to work out in, many fitness enthusiasts are caught between fashion or comfort. They may splurge on a pair of compression leggings designed to wick sweat and aid recovery, but on top we’re wearing an old, oversized cotton t-shirt. The important question is, does it really matter what you wear in the gym?

Hi-Tec believes that there is a direct correlation between wearing the correct apparel and performance as well as motivation levels – read all about the benefits below: 

You won’t feel restricted

Lightweight materials and well-designed activewear should feel like a second skin, ensuring you don’t feel restricted while working out. Exercising in total comfort will allow you to solely concentrate on the task at hand, and workout to the best of your ability. Choosing clothing that allows full range of movement is incredibly important, so when choosing fitness clothing, pay close attention to the design and tailoring, opting for seamless kit which won’t irritate your skin, or rub.

The Hi-Tec LEO Camo Biker Short for women is ready to ride. Or stretch, or play! This fully breathable, high-quality performance tight complements curves and gives firm support. The camo-inspired print is a bold, feminine design. And the shrink-resistant fabric has shape memory and dries quickly.

It regulates and controls body temperature

An intense session at the gym will leave you thankful that you didn’t wear that old cotton top, as cotton absorbs sweat easily and retains moisture, leaving you feeling damp and heavy. You should opt for light, breathable and sweat-wicking fabrics which will draw moisture away from the body, leaving you feeling dry and comfortable.

The Ladies LEO Active Hoody, Wrap up in this stylish hoodie, a femme but fierce style for your active wardrobe. Made from a quick-drying and breathable fabric and the perfect fit for gym, yoga, running or working from home. Go from strength to stretch!

It can improve performance

High quality, intelligent fabrics work with the body to accelerate performance, withstanding the rigours of intense training to keep you performing at your best. When it comes to improved performance, comfort is again key. You should opt for fitness clothing which is really designed for your chosen activity. If you’re likely to get sweaty, look for sweat-wicking fabrics which draw moisture away from the body and seek out FRESHFIT technology which incorporates silver ions, designed to resist bacterial build up and keep you feeling fresh.”

The Hi-Tec LEO Camo Tank for women goes from strength to stretch. This lightweight, super flexible design in a bold, feminine print is made for an active lifestyle. It’s breathable, quick-drying and has antibacterial and odour-resistant qualities. This tank won’t shrink, fade, fuss or pull and holds with shape memory.

It can boost confidence

Clothing can be empowering in everyday life, and when it comes to working out, contributing to your confidence levels and raising self-esteem. Indeed, there’s even a psychological phenomenon called “enclothed cognition” which suggests that the clothing a person wears can trigger mental changes that positively affect their performance and confidence level. In the simplest terms, when you look good, you feel more confident, so investing in a gym kit which makes you feel the part can help you to feel better in the gym and truly conquer a workout.”

The Hi-Tec LEO Camo Long Tight for women is our seasonal athleisure crush. This fully breathable, high-quality performance tight complements curves and gives firm support. The camo-inspired print is a bold, feminine design. And the shrink-resistant fabric has shape memory and dries quickly.

It can motivate you

Nothing motivates you to go to the gym more than a new kit. Not only will you feel good, but you’ll look good, and that’s something you want when surrounded by mirrors in the gym.

The Hi-Tec LEO Camo Crop Top for women is up for the challenge. Nothing quite says action like this super flexible, lightweight design. It’s breathable, quick-drying and has antibacterial and odour-resistant qualities.

The LEO Collection is a capsule ​​activewear collection which is produced locally in Cape Town, from imported Brazilian fabric. The design offers full mobility, functionality and support when doing exercise. This Leo Collection release and new range with different colours every day   Fashion, Lifestyle, Trends

Most Model of the Year wins at the Fashion Awards

Kate Moss (UK, b. 1974) has won three Model of the Year awards – more than any other person since the awards began in 1984 – and six Fashion Awards in total since 1996. The model, who has featured on the cover of Vogue magazine more times than any other, has fronted campaigns for designer labels including Chanel, Calvin Klein, Dior and Gucci, and designed a clothing range for Topshop

 Click here to see fact sheet with advertising rates. 

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