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Meet South Africa’s new fashion talent

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Now, Viviers is looking to explore the brand’s retail potential. “The risk is much higher with wholesale,” she says, citing the increased markdowns and unsold stock. Viviers Studio is now working with a small factory in South Africa that will produce limited units of the brand’s signature pieces including three styles of trousers, a maxi dress and a jumpsuit. It’s a move that will bring down production costs, and help the brand expand their market by securing more retail partners in South Africa. DTC is currently 80 per cent of the business and 20 per cent wholesale. Prices range from $2,916 for a Mycelium dress to $222 for a mesh t-shirt. Sales are over $100,000.

In order to increase sales, Fikile Sokhulu, founder of the eponymous label, says she’ll need to “minimise the design element” so that her pieces are more wearable and attractive to buyers. “If not it’d be difficult if I want to do retail and reach a wider audience,” says the Durban-based designer. “I want to create something that has appeal to a wide audience: I have stripes, I have prints… I’m creating iconic products and making them for a contemporary woman.” She notes that her slow approach to fashion would also require reworking as production will have to increase in order to reach a mass audience. Currently, Sokhulu and her artisan make five pieces a week. Sales are under $50,000.

For Munkus founder Thando Ntuli, retail partnerships have been crucial for customer acquisition within South Africa. Key retailers include V&A’s Waterfront, 99 Design store and ‘We are Egg’ which has three stores across South Africa. “If you have more brick-and-mortar stores or you have a physical presence where they [customers] can bump into your work, you end up doing better than you do on e-commerce,” Ntuli says. Wholesale currently accounts for 70 per cent of the business, and DTC is 30 per cent. Prices range from 5,000 rand ($266) to 14,000 rand ($746). Sales are over $60,000.

Photo: Courtesy of Fikile Sokhulu

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