SA trends and high fashion

2014-01-14 16:27

In South Africa, chain stores control the mass-market fashion sector, and cheaper imports from Asia and China are the norm.

But if you want to be on point with the latest fashions in Europe, the boutiques scattered across the country have the answers.

Keeping in mind how far away South Africa is from Europe and the country’s own unique pressures and multitiered market, it takes a while for latest trends to trickle down to consumers here.

“After we launch a range, the watered-down trend will only become available here [South Africa] about one year later,” says buyer and founder of Pretoria-based high fashion stockist Niccidix, Marine Louw.

“Our niche in the market is to give to boutiques what is current and happening and trendy in Europe.”

Every five weeks for 10 days at a time, Louw travels to Europe and other destinations to buy and import unique garments and stock that does not come from the East to supply the local market.

The stock arrives in South Africa and once it is ready for distribution, the company invites and visits boutiques nationwide to choose items for their customers.

It takes about a month for the stock that is bought overseas to appear in local boutiques, she said.

“We never order in advance, as fashion is an industry where trends can change weekly. Boutiques and chain stores, however, often have to order six months in advance. That is purely because of local production,” says Louw.

“We begin our winter season in January and it ends in June. Summer season starts in July and ends in November.”

When asked about the current fashion trends in the South African market, she said: “There are some very strong trends for the under 20s. For example, shorts and chiffon tops. Then trends for the 20 to 30 bracket include the skinny jeans with dress or top/overs,” she says.

“Then [in the] 30 to 40 bracket, [the trend is] more towards the corporate look, more jackets and dresses, then [in the] 40-plus bracket, it becomes a more classic dress trend.

“Leggings and top/dresses are huge, and I think they are here to stay for quite a while.”

Anny Pretorius, the owner of Jo Bangles boutique in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, who has been in business since 1995, agreed with Louw’s sentiments about what was popular in South Africa at the moment.

“Yes, she knows what she is talking about, and can read the trends in advance. Her label is very popular, as my clientele is from Gauteng mostly,” she said.

Niccidix marketing director Nicola Louw says 2014’s look could be summed up in one word: “50s”.

“A more sophisticated look with a sexy edge will rise upon the catwalks for 2014. Colours like nudes, creams, coral, and mints will stay strong features – as it has in 2013,” she says.

“South African women [generally] want plain. Unfortunately for them, prints and florals are in and have been gracing the threads for the past two years and will only get stronger.”

Animal prints such as snakeskin and tiger prints were making a comeback, with traditional leopard print ebbing away.

“Working ladies, please get over wearing a top with pants. Dresses are in. Short, medium, long, you name it,” Nicola Louw says.

Looking ahead to the colder months, predictions are for checks, a classic A-line coat in a hound’s-tooth fabric that would be worn open over a shift dress paired with knee-high boots.

“Wear that on the first day of winter and you will be bang on trend,” she says.

Pretorius also believed the 50s were in this year, especially as dresses were getting shorter.

“It is feminine, and with the dresses going shorter it is a natural follow-up,” she said.

She agrees that checks and the classic A-line coat paired with the knee-high boots would be fashionable this winter.

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