4 of 2024


 Newsletter No 4/9 February 2024



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 Kay Raidoo appointed Country Road Group’s new country manager for SA

Country Road Group (CRG) welcomed Kay Raidoo as the country manager for South Africa. Image supplied

On 1 February 2024, Country Road Group (CRG) welcomed Kay Raidoo as the country manager for South Africa. The brands that will fall under her stable include Country Road, Witchery, and Trenery.

Raidoo brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience which will help her lead the CRG stable in South Africa to new heights. Raidoo worked in senior leadership teams for over 10 years; and is a certified non-executive director (Institute of Directors) and holds a BCom (Wits) as well as an MBL (UNISA). She has also completed the International Leadership Development Programme at GIBS and the Advanced Management Programme at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Notably, she was the head of trade operations and customer experience for Woolworths Fashion, Home, and Beauty, as well as the divisional executive for Woolworths where she was responsible for the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape division.

“As I enter this new role, my vision is to firmly entrench the brands in the hearts and minds of more South Africans,” says Raidoo.

“Our country has proven its enormous talent in the fashion industry, and I hope to leverage more synergies between CRG and the creative talents out there. Additionally, within the context of the retail industry, skills development and meaningful employment will continue to be a focus of mine,” she adds, “while our online channel presents the opportunity to grow and expand our brands, and this will receive great care and attention.”

“I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Kay Raidoo as Country Road roup country manager for SA”, says Elle Roseby, managing director of Country Road and Trenery.

“Kay brings more than 25 years’ experience to the role, having successfully led and managed teams in various roles within the Woolworths SA business. Kay is driven to always seek best practice and add value and is passionate about growing and developing future talent. As a leader, she is respected for her inclusive leadership style having guided diverse and complex teams across the business. Her wealth of experience and proven leadership skills make her an excellent fit for our business and I am confident she will contribute significantly to our continued growth and success.”

About her appointment and the new chapter, she now embarks on, Raidoo concludes, “I am honoured and humbled to take up the baton for the next chapter of CRG South Africa, whilst this comes with huge responsibility, I’m equally excited to lead the business and grow our footprint by making the brand more accessible to more South Africans.”   Bizcommunity

Apple’s vision already shaping the future of fashion

By Sandsio Ngubane

Apple Vision Pro  Image: Apple

No more sending selfies to friends to ask how I look before I step out the door for a date or social event

One of my favourite films is Spike Jonze’s ‘HER’. In the science fiction romance, Joaquin Phoenix’s character falls in love with Samantha — an artificial intelligence (AI) virtual assistant voiced by Scarlett Johansson. The movie came out in 2013, when the effect of AI on reality, specifically intimacy, was speculative. The arrival of Apple’s Vision Pro puts much of that speculation on its way to becoming fact.

Apple’s mixed-reality headset launched last week with hundreds of new apps created for the device. While I can’t say how it’s going to affect escapades on Tinder, Bumble or Hinge; in fashion, we’re already seeing a few brands testing out the virtual world this technology is likely to bring into the mainstream.

Among said apps are shopping experiences from the likes of US apparel store J Crew and global luxury e-commerce platform Mytheresa. Per Vogue Business reporting: “Mytheresa’s experience invites viewers to shop in virtual Capri beachside or Paris at night settings, complete with the sound of lapping waves and seagulls or a photorealistic 3D Eiffel Tower (they can also elect a less immersive experience and leave the background transparent to see their own surroundings).

Visitors can then select “Shop the Edit” to scroll through pieces that have been curated for the environment, directing their actions via eye and hand controls.”

With your Apple Vision goggles on, you can select an item to see product details displayed in front of you, view additional images and add items to your wishlist. You can then use Apple Pay to make the purchase.

Mytheresa created their Apple Vision store with tech company Obsess, which has worked with many other luxury brands on stores one can access via computer or smartphone. But this is a giant leap, and a moment Obsess’s founder, Neha Singh, says they’ve been waiting for. “The quality and interaction you are able to get is unprecedented in terms of resolution and how you can see products realistically in larger-than-life scale and be completely immersed in a brand environment. It’s definitely the closest, or the next best thing, to seeing a product in person in a store.”

Mytheresa App shopping by Obsess   Image: Mytheresa

My imagination is already running wild with the potential to try out looks on a virtual version of myself, placed in a setting where I intend to wear said look. No more sending selfies to friends to ask how I look before I step out the door for a date or whatever other social event. Neat!

Beyond shopping and styling, however, the platform is also likely to transform the entire fashion value chain. A US company known as Swatchbook is now offering its material sourcing services via Apple Vision. Designers can use the app to source fabrics and test them out on designs. This solves several issues designers face when sourcing materials they are considering for a collection.

J Crew App shopping by Obsess  Image: J Crew

I imagine future fashion weeks can be more democratised, with virtual shows in 3D, where viewers can see garments up close.

At a price tag of $3,499.00 (a little less than R67,000 at the current exchange rate), Apple’s Vision Pro and the world of possibilities it offers might be a little out of reach for most of us. But it is safe to assume that future variations of the tech — from Apple and other tech companies — might bring that price down as mainstream demand grows.

As a former content editor for an e-commerce site, charged with using content to entice potential customers, my greatest obstacle was the trust deficit that exists in the marketplace when it comes to selling luxury African fashion. It’s a relatively new industry, justifiably people are worried about the quality of the garments. No matter how great the content is, if they can’t touch and feel the fabric, and look at the stitching on a particular item, it becomes very tricky to convince them to shell out $500 on a jacket, for example.

From where I sit, Apple’s Vision Pro can go a long way to alleviate at least some of these concerns. Yes, market penetration for Apple’s Vision might not be great on the continent in the short to medium term, economics considered. However, investing in such tools would put the African fashion industry in great stead to continue to compete internationally (I should note that a disproportionately large number of sales at my former employer came from the US).  

The promise and the promises of 1994 have been betrayed

By David Shapiro


The JSE reflects our fall from grace — and business is to blame as well as the ANC government

Near 30 years ago, in April 1994, I stood in line with my wife, Linda, and our domestic helper, Anna Makgopa, at Fairways Primary School, to cast our vote in what was termed “SA’s first democratic election”. The usually straight-faced and impassive Anna was beaming with pride. My mother-in-law, Esther Barsel, voting in Yeoville, was as joyous as a bride on her wedding day. For Esther, it was vindication after 50 years of political activism and struggle; a time during which she was harassed, jailed and banned from public life.

SA was the toast of the world. Everyone wanted a piece of the Rainbow Nation. Global leaders queued to shake hands with the newly inaugurated president Nelson Mandela, while international businesses, which had shunned the apartheid government, rushed to open factories and stores.

Optimism about the country’s future abounded. The fall of communism in the USSR, the rise of China, globalisation, the deregulation of the JSE, the introduction of mobile phones and the worldwide expansion of the internet created unprecedented opportunities to drive the economy of this infant administration to new peaks.

Thirty years on, we’re asking how we let our destiny slip. SA’s economy is forecast to grow at a sluggish 1.3% a year for the next three years, far below the global mean. Our unemployment rate is among the highest in the world, our debt levels are becoming unmanageable, crime and corruption are out of control, power is rationed, our roads are disintegrating and our railway system is dysfunctional. Worst of all, we lack the will and means to fix our problems.

The JSE reflects our fall from grace. In 1994, there were more than 600 listed businesses. Industrial concerns — food, engineering, electronics, clothing, footwear and textiles — made up 45% of the market value. Mining was 43% of the exchange’s capitalisation, with financials, including property, comprising the balance. The top 10 most valuable listings added up to a mere 28% of the total capitalisation, compared with 70% today, whereas now most of these businesses have no operations in the country.

Now there are no more than 200 actively traded stocks on the JSE, 100 of which are valued at under R10bn each. To put the JSE’s size in perspective, Microsoft is three times larger than the entire JSE, bearing in mind that the JSE boards include international giants such as BHP, AB InBev, British American Tobacco and Richemont. A further worry is that trade volumes can barely support a traditional stockbroking firm.

Investors have also become a lot poorer; $100 invested on the JSE 30 years ago would be worth $294 (3.3% a year) compared with $100 invested in US markets that would be worth $1,029 (8.1% a year). Remember, the period we’re measuring included the Chinese-fuelled commodity supercycle, of which our country was a prime beneficiary.

The JSE’s underperformance doesn’t fall solely on the government’s indolence, incompetence and ineffectiveness. Corporates played their part as well. Flattered by armies of international investment bankers who knocked on the boardroom doors offering offshore deals, while management teams overrated their abilities and underrated climate change. Shoprite, Investec, Sasol, Discovery, Woolworths, Tiger Brands, Spar and Famous Brands are among an extended list of businesses that gave life to the word “impairment” and the adoption of the term “earnings from continuing operations”.

Yet, we can’t ignore how the governing party’s policies of plunder undermined growth, and how established manufacturing, engineering and construction firms bear the scars of the ANC government’s failure. You can pick up Murray & Roberts, Bowler Metcalf, Hulamin, ArcelorMittal and Nampak for a mere R5.5bn. It demonstrates how, in 30 years, we’ve slumped from the comfort of the C-suite to the mail room in the basement.   

• Shapiro is chief global equity strategist at Sasfin Wealth.

Haute Couture

Haute Couture is a much-misused phrase that actually has very specific rules for qualification. Translated literally, couture is French for dressmaking, while haute means high. These are garments created as one off pieces for a specific client. 19th century Englishman Charles Frederick Worth is considered as the father of Haute Couture and today members are selected by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. To qualify as an official Haute Couture house, members must design made-to-order clothes for private clients, with more than one fitting, using an atelier (workshop) that employs at least fifteen fulltime staff. They must also have twenty fulltime technical workers in one of their workshops. Finally, Haute Couture houses must present a collection of no less than 50 original designs — both day and evening garments — to the public every season, in January and July.


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