- As the Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in new consumer mindsets while accelerating the digital bulldoze of brick-and-mortar stores, fashion e-commerce is seeing a boom.
- Zando and Superbalist remain two of South Africa's biggest fashion e-tailers, but they may soon face competition with the emergence of new online fashion portals.
- StyleMode.co.za is an e-commerce fashion retailer that launched on in October, and on 24 November 2020, SA officially welcomed Native Nylon - a new fashion e-commerce brand for - and by - women.
The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we shop, as digital contagion has spread over the past few months. Between the anxiety and protective admin that comes with physically visiting a store, and the months-long global lockdowns that fast-tracked multiple store closures, 2020 became the year that eCommerce's boom would become most apparent.
As someone who has always preferred to shop in-store rather than online, I've since acclimatised to CVVs and OTPs on screens over "void please!" at tills.
In a previous thought piece, I had written about how shopping is the one activity for which I absolutely have to use my hands. However, coronavirus concerns changed that, as I found myself muttering "oh s**t" behind my mask after instinctively touching the hem of a dress on a rail despite research on how long the virus survives on clothing being inconclusive.
"When shopping, I see with my hands," I wrote, adding that "it is not only of paramount importance that I try the clothes on before making a purchase, but feeling the fabric of each item, taking the hanger off the rail so the garment twirls at the command of my wrist to get a full close-up picture is the exercise that informs whether I like something or not."
But as an e-consumer, that decision is informed by which of the three angles you like best on a model whose frame is often nothing like yours. Even so, many are adapting to digital means of shopping as we've all increased our exposure to blue light instead of sunlight this year.
As a result, trend researchers and consulting firms have dubbed 2020 the year of the biggest e-commerce boom. Current Consulting reported that "in the space of a few weeks, Covid-19 had accelerated the eCommerce adoption curve by several years," citing Stats SA who revealed that the "volume of retail trade sales has grown by 2.1 percent compared with 2017 and in 2018, the annual growth rate was sitting at 4.8 percent, meaning that, despite the current disastrous economic climate, online retail is still thriving".
Enter Native Nylon and StyleMode - South Africa's new online fashion portals, both launched in 2020 a month apart.
The brainchild of Portia Dhlamini, Native Nylon is the first recipient of Khula Lula’s micro-finance funding programming targeted at young, black women entrepreneurs in technology, and it's bursting through the retail seams of South Africa with affordable luxury and inclusive sizing.
Native Nylon’s Portia Dhlamini, beneficiary of VC funding from Khula Lula
With an investment of R200 000 alongside mentorship and business development, Native Nylon’s successful entry into fashion e-commerce is not only a win for the women-founded fund, but also for young entrepreneurs in the country.
Khula Lula is also in its infancy as a private equity fund created primarily with women in mind. According to Bizcommunity, it was "founded by University of Johannesburg alum in 2019, Milisa Mabinza who carries a B.Comm Honours in Investment Management."
"The birth of Khula Lula in the private equity funding arena is the realisation of Milisa's goal to not only build a legacy platform inspired by her late father, but an active solution to address the disproportionate capital funding opportunities available to young Black women-led startups in the tech field," Bizcommunity explains.
It's therefore fitting that Khula Lula has committed funding to the Native Nylon brand - not only has the brand committed to inclusion and affordability, but Native Nylon is also paying it forward through their #NativeNylonPowerPackage social media campaign.
This is campaign encourages the newly formed brand community to nominate power women in their lives - across industries and fields - to receive a gift for their dedication to their craft and their empowerment of others.
The first field to be recognised in the campaign is the medical field, with a call for nominations in this sector considering the brave, selfless and thankless work health workers have had to do during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now back to fashion...
Most recently, Native Nylon has been donned by the iconic Khanyi Mbau:
In their Malia pant suit.
As well as the tweed Jewel Blazer.
It's evident from Native Nylon's inaugural campaign images that their fashions are made for the modern young professional who brunches and doesn't mind putting on a full getup for virtual meetings and seminars (instead of dressing from the waist up).
Images supplied on behalf of Native Nylon
If you have an appreciation for good, pristine packaging, you might find yourself shopping loyally from this local fashion e-tailer just for the boxes.
Image supplied by Melenial Media
Alright, time to support & buy black:
And in case you missed it in October, welcome to StyleMode:
A new fashion e-tailer powered by Loot, StyleMode, launched in October – evidently at a prime time, given the stats of our bubbling online retail industry. They entered the market with a range of brands across apparel, footwear, accessories and a plus-size range – all at a price point that will suit most pockets in our country's economy.
StyleMode comes with an expert fashion pedigree too, having been developed and curated by Shereen Conrad and Nishai Sookdhew – both respected and experienced professionals in the fashion eCommerce world.
Shereen cut her teeth in high-street fashion before becoming a part of the launch team of two of South Africa’s currently dominant fashion platforms and will head up the StyleMode fashion squad. Nishai, an award-winning designer in her own right, will oversee the design and manufacturing aspects of the private labels – her particular pocket of expertise.
Bang on style and echoing the international fashion zeitgeist for comfort, StyleMode stated that it will offer a sophisticated range of loungewear that will be equally comfortable at home, as it will be in the office or a night out.
Following a growing undertaking in South Africa (and worldwide) to support local design and manufacturing, StyleMode will also launch with its own private label collection. There will be not one, but four labels that will ramp up SA's sustainable fashion agenda.
Currently being manufactured in Cape Town, and predominantly by women-owned businesses, the private label collection will include, StyleMode the label, Miss Mode, La Mode and ModeCurve.
Additional information and images provided by Melenial Media and Networx PR.
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