5 of 2022`

Newsletter No 05 / 11 February 2022     


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Top five menswear trends hot off the streets of Paris

Words: Thango Ntwasa

From prints to accessories, fashion gets luxe again in the streets of Paris.
Image: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Black’s back and other fashion trends for 2022

Paris Couture has come to a close. While the runway is the expected place to look, everyone knows that it’s streetwear that dictates what’s in, what’s out and what’s timeless.

While the decade is expected to be one of great innovation and newness, the need to remain positive in dark times still has many pulling out all of the old trends from yesteryear, which are here to stay.

So, whether you are joining the global call to dump the skinny jeans or keeping your closet minimal, here are the menswear trends hot off the streets of Paris.

Crop tops forever

The gender-bending trend is seemingly going nowhere. From jackets to tees and workout gear, if you are a little shy, try out this trendy item with high-waisted trousers. Age has no limited so don’t be scared to play around with your favourite colours.

Men of all ages are starting to embrace the growing crop top trend.
Image: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

The cape

Perhaps boosted by the passing of Andre Leon Talley, the cape has proven to be a must-have. Not keen on lugging it around? Opt for scarves or bomber jackets especially when wearing casual outfits.

Keep capes casual with brand scarves.  A great alternative to a cape is a draped bomber jacket.
Image: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Dracula 2022

Hearkening back to the rave scene of the mid 90s and early 2000s, the all-black goth-inspired look is coming back. The focus here is an interview with a vampire through plunging necklines, looser fits and all-black outfits. Spice up the look with velvet in your colour of choice or layered accessories in cool silvers or warm golds.

Dracula: embracing the dark side of nostalgia. Vampire aesthetics are making a comeback.
Image: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Winter whites

Gone are the tie-dyes and playful prints of last year’s TikTok crazed fad-starters. Fashion is taking a much-needed cleanse with the late 90s monotones in sumptuous form. Leading the pack is all white, a colour that works with the more matured palette of this season’s streetwear trends.

White: crisp colours are on-trend with menswear.
Image: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

The shopping bag

While you will be happier in your tote bag, your latest shopping exploits are the perfect accessories. A much more muted approach to the logomania trend, let everyone know which stores have stolen your heart in Hyde Park or at the Diamond Walk. The trend has been a favourite for influencers who buy empty bags and get tongues wagging on Instagram.

Bags: influencers are looking back to trends of yesteryear as they hit the streets again.

How Covid decimated Lesotho’s textile industry

By Herbert Moyo

Severe cuts: Lesotho’s textile sector has shed 11,500 of 45,000 jobs since the start of the Covid pandemic. Picture: Pieter Bauermeister/Bloomberg News

Lesotho’s textiles sector — the biggest employer after government — has been gutted by the pandemic. Women workers are bearing the brunt of the hardship

Mpho Mohale* is a single mother of four in Lesotho’s capital, Maseru. Last month, she found herself out of work when apparel manufacturer C&Y Garments shut down — one of the many casualties of Covid in the mountain kingdom.

“My retrenchment was a devastating blow for me as I am the breadwinner of the family,” the 40-year-old widow tells the FM. “Following my retrenchment, I tried selling fruits on the streets of Maseru but business was not good due to tough competition. I would sometimes take home a paltry R20 per day.”

Mohale is one of 2,700 workers left jobless by the closure of C&Y Garments, a subsidiary of the Taiwanese-owned Nien Hsing Textile Group. All told, the group has shed almost 7,000 jobs at its Lesotho subsidiaries — 5,500 in the past 12 months alone — equivalent to 70% of its workforce.

“We have just experienced the worst year since we started operating in Lesotho more than two decades ago,” group GM Ricky Chang tells the FM. Though there had been some recovery in the market, “the emergence of the Omicron variant poses a new challenge for the textiles industry. It is therefore hard to predict what 2022 holds in store.”

Lesotho’s textiles sector is reeling from its worst job cuts, with one-quarter of its 45,000-strong workforce being retrenched between March 2020 and the end of last year. It’s a huge blow for the country: the sector is the second-largest formal employer after the government, according to a 2019 UN Development Programme report, contributing 16.4% of all jobs in the formal sector.

The job cuts are likely to worsen socioeconomic hardship in the country, where nearly half the 2.1-million population lives in poverty, and unemployment is at 22.5%, according to the Bureau of Statistics.

Importantly, the retrenchments will reverse the gains that have been made in women’s empowerment, says National Clothing, Textile & Allied Workers Union secretary-general Sam Mokhele. Two decades after the sector opened up, women constitute about 80% of the textiles workforce. It means the many women-headed households in the country will be hit hard, says Mokhele.

“Without the garment industry, the economy will just break down,” he says, pointing to the sector’s roughly 14% contribution to GDP. “The factories employ mostly women whose families will not have anything to eat.”

On the whole, the job losses have been attributed to the Covid-induced slowdown in economic activity, and reduced demand for goods. But Covid isn’t solely to blame — it’s simply worsened an existing problem.

In focusing exclusively on textile exports, Lesotho has failed to take advantage of other opportunities to develop and export products under the preferential terms of the US African Growth Opportunities Act (Agoa), says Tlohang Letsie, a senior political science lecturer at the National University of Lesotho.

Under Agoa, qualifying countries may export more than 6,000 products to the US duty free. Though the department of trade & industry has identified other products that could be developed for export — including rosehip and other medicinal herbs, dried fruit, bottled water, and leather products and handicrafts — the government has so far failed to diversify its offering.

“Our leaders are not progressive,” Letsie says. “If they were progressive, they would have long [ago] ensured that Lesotho takes advantage of more Agoa product lines. They abdicated their duty by putting the proverbial eggs in one basket. Surely we cannot continue relying on textiles only for Agoa exports and expect everything to work out.”

The job losses are likely to continue unless the government comes up with an effective plan not just to diversify the economy, but also to empower entrepreneurs in fields outside the traditional areas of employment. In addition, it needs to explore markets beyond its traditional trading partners, SA and the US, which account for 83.6% and 12.5% of its trade respectively, according to statistics bureau estimates.

Social justice advocate Mpho Letima, founder of the Gender Entrepreneurship & Media Institute, tells the FM Lesotho will continue to face challenges until women are empowered to create their own jobs and run their own factories. As long as there is no local ownership in factories, and the variety of goods produced is not widened, the country’s economy — and its people — will remain vulnerable, Letima says.

“I encourage the retrenched women to come together and start income-generating projects. It does not matter starting small; what is important is that they are self-reliant. Retrenchments are not new — we have been here before and we must look for permanent solutions and change our story.”

Former trade & industry principal secretary Majakathata Mokoena-Thakhisi also highlights the importance of local ownership.

“It is unfortunate that the government does not have a say in the textile factories. I am sure if the factories were locally owned, the government would be in a better position to negotiate deals that would ensure that Basotho do not lose their jobs,” he says.

“The government was supposed to buy shares in the factories a long time ago,” he adds — but little seems to have come of this.

Approached for comment, trade & industry minister Thabiso Molapo referred questions to the Lesotho National Development Corp (LNDC). Its spokesperson, Tiisetso Moremoholo, in turn referred the FM to a statement issued in August that said the LNDC was “troubled by the downscaling of operations by key players, which has resulted in considerable job losses. In an endeavour to save these jobs, the corporation has engaged the companies that have downsized their operations through sizeable layoffs.”

It’s working to improve the investment environment, and “wishes to assure workers and the public that it is exploring all avenues to preserve and create new jobs for those who have been retrenched, through operationalising expansion projects in its pipeline”.

In part, that is likely to include completion of the Ha Belo Industrial Estate in the Butha-Buthe district, and phase 3 of the Tikoe development in Maseru. Both projects involve the construction of factory shells, which the LNDC expects will be occupied by textile and other manufacturing companies. But given low demand from Lesotho’s traditional markets, it remains to be seen if these will simply become white elephants.

As for the beleaguered workers, the government did provide some relief when factories were temporarily shuttered to comply with lockdown regulations in 2020: a payment of R800 a month from June to August of that year. Now, with companies permanently closed, retrenched workers are having to find income elsewhere, including in SA, says Mohaneng Mokaoane, secretary-general of the Lentsoe La Sechaba Workers Union.

“The retrenched workers are being forced to cross into SA to look for work without work permits,” Mokaoane says. “Working as an illegal migrant is tough because employers tend to exploit them … they will not even report exploitation for fear of being caught out and deported back to Lesotho.”

Mohale may well be one such worker. Unable to make ends meet from her vending business, she’s considering trying her luck in SA. “I don’t have a work permit,” she says. “I will have to go there illegally.”

*Not her real name

A perilous position

Severe job losses in Lesotho’s textiles sector will affect women disproportionately — and not just because they constitute the majority of the sector’s workforce. Women are already most affected by poverty and a host of other social ills, including HIV/Aids, says National University of Lesotho nursing science lecturer Mamotsamai Ranneileng.

Apart from giving women an income to fend for themselves and access health services, employment at the factories has helped them address their primary health-care concerns, as health services were brought to their places of work by the government and other health-care providers. With large-scale retrenchments, Ranneileng is concerned that women will be now be unable to access the health-care services they require.

For his part, Lentsoe La Sechaba Workers Union secretary-general Mohaneng Mokaoane warns that the retrenchments may fuel gender-based violence (GBV).

As it stands, violence against women is endemic in Lesotho, where UN Women estimates that one in three women and girls have fallen victim to abuse. It’s a scourge that costs the country about 5.5% of GDP a year, according to a September 2020 report by the Commonwealth of Nations and Lesotho’s department of gender, sports & recreation.

Though Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has acknowledged the extent of the problem — and its cost to the country — no clear government programmes or plans have been articulated to deal with the scourge.

“GBV is likely to spike in many households as retrenched women will no longer be able to contribute to the household income,” Mokaoane warns. “Once their income dries up, they will no longer be [considered] as valuable to their husbands as before.”  FM

Cape Union Mart partners with Ozow to simplify payments

Submitted by Bradly Howland

Over the last few years, the relationship that people have with nature has changed. For many South Africans, who’ve been trapped indoors or avoided social situations, there’s been a renewed interest in outdoor activities and hobbies. More than just for the health benefits, being outdoors has helped people to reconnect with one another.

Whether an intrepid explorer preparing to scale a mountain, or simply wanting to explore the nature in their backyards, Cape Union Mart has continued to provide high-quality outdoor clothing, gear, and gadgets to adventurers of the outdoors since 1933.

Recognising the evolving needs of its customers, the retailer has partnered with payment solutions provider Ozow to make payments even easier during the checkout process – online and now in-store.

The integration of Ozow’s payment solution will mean that customers can either scan a QR code at the point-of-sale or use an SMS payment link sent by the teller to instantly pay for their goods directly from their bank account – without the need to use a card.

“Our partnership with Ozow is so exciting because it lets us continue our journey to becoming a cashless retailer, giving our customers a hassle-free way to pay in-store, so they can enjoy more time in the wild,” says Grant de Waal-Dubla, IT Executive at Cape Union Mart.

Importantly, Thomas Pays, CEO and co-founder of Ozow, says that the partnership hopes to provide a seamless payment process. “Most South Africans have three to five bank accounts on average. So, by connecting directly with the consumer’s bank profile with Ozow, shoppers will be able to choose the account that they want to pay for, without the need to have multiple cards on hand.”

With more than 47 million bank account holders in South Africa, Pays believes simple bank-to-bank payment solutions help to unlock a whole new market of consumers who have been previously left out of the digital economy.

Shoppers will be able to use Ozow at any of the Cape Union Mart group stores (including Old Khaki, Poetry, Keedo, and Tread + Miller).

Rex True – acquisition of stake in Telemedia

Rex Trueform will acquire a 63.71% stake in Telemedia (Pty) Ltd. The Transaction is now unconditional in accordance with the terms of the Agreement, with an effective date of 1 March 2022.

The most talked about Oscars dresses of all time

Lizzy Gardiner, 1995

American Express didn’t want the costume designer using their brand in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but they had no problem providing 254 expired cards for a one-of-a-kind Oscars dress. The real question is, how did she sit down

To Advertise…..   Click here to see fact sheet with advertising rates. 

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