The 18th to the 24th of April marks Fashion Revolution Week. In the lead up, we thought it would be a good idea to share a few brick-and-mortar retail spaces that provide a unique shopping experience for looking, feeling, and falling in love with local fashion brands. Supporting local is one of the ways we can begin to “collectively reimagine a just and equitable fashion system for people and the planet,” as per Fashion Revolution’s mission.
The six retail spaces mentioned below stock South African designers and brands that focus on, as well as encourage a shift towards, responsible production and consumption. They spotlight environmental and human consciousness at as many levels of their business as possible.
Ignited by the philosophy of “travelling together in mutual support,” Convoy was established in 2015 when a group of South African designers with good synergy and similar business goals united their networks and ideas to create a truly collaborative retail space with the ability to directly manage how their brands were perceived by the market and reached the end consumer.
Convoy’s collection of over 20 brands is a carefully curated choice underpinned by versatility to meet any and every occasion. Designer and member of the Convoy team, Isabel de Villiers, explains that each brand stocked in Convoy is decided on by way of a group vote by all the designers that form the Convoy team. Convoy is filled with a mix of everyday wear, a splash of formal wear, some workwear items, and beautiful accessories from hats and headbands to match.
Play with pattern and colour and pair Johannesburg-based Anmari Honiball’s distinctively detailed patchwork dresses with a classic Crystal Birch Bolero. For minimalist elegance combine one of Cape Town-based, Beagle + Basset’s naturally dyed linen pieces with an austere sterling silver or gold jewellery piece from Cape Town-based Famke Jewellery. Convoy posits itself as a space to experiment and express as the team also provides style advice.
“You can pop in weekly and find new pieces which is such a pulling factor for our regular clients,” says de Villiers.
While Convoy does not have an online store, their website lists all the designers they stock, complete with a designer profile that links to each designer’s own online store.
AKJP Studio (Cape Town)
AKJP Studio was born out of the collaboration between Adriaan Kuiters’ designer, Keith Henning, and artist, Jody Paulsen, in 2012. AKJP’s brand signature is its artful contemporary twist on classic, utilitarian gender-neutral, all-inclusive ready-to-wear pieces.
Core to the brand is their focus on quality, with the intention of making people feel confident in the clothing. Riffing off AKJP’s label ethos, AKJP Studio aims to provide a bespoke space to showcase the very best designs of South Africa.
AKJP Studio houses over 30 South African creatives together with their eponymous label. This ranges from fashion, artworks, publications and accessories to homeware, ceramics, and furniture. The majority of apparel comprises AKJP’s in-house label with accessory options from Thalia Strates’ leather accessories, to Project Dyad handbags, and Pichulik jewellery. AKJP updates their stock seasonally while stock drops from other designers happen weekly.
“AKJP Studio is specifically focused on the upliftment of South Africa’s emerging creatives as well as established ones,” writes Kirsten de Cerff of team AKJP via email.
Aware and au fait with the fashion industry’s wasteful consumer model, AKJP places heavy emphasis on social and environmental transparency and responsibility. “The working conditions of our product suppliers are very important to us so we make it a point to know and see how our designers manufacture by visiting their factories and studios,” says de Cerff adding, “Supporting local businesses such as AKJP Studio and the designers attached to it encourages a socially and environmentally friendly choice of consumption.”
We Are EGG (Cape Town expanding to Johannesburg)
After entrepreneur Paul Simon realised the impact and difference he made within the local brand sphere with his first brainchild, YDE (Young Designers Emporium), he felt compelled to continue his passion for local talent and expand on the offering for consumers in South Africa that needed an exciting place to shop. So, the concept of We Are EGG was born and launched its first store in Cavendish Square in December 2020. EGG allows creatives and innovators within the Fashion, Homeware, Jewellery, Soles and Sneakers, Wellness, and Beauty disciplines to be given a space in mainstream retail with the opportunity to grow.
Emphasising spotlighting local, EGG gives preference to local brands with 82% of their stock being local and 80% of that stock being SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises). This equates to 150 suppliers with unique designs and brand stories that are housed and supply merchandise to the EGG Platform.
Some of these brands include Twyg favourites, Sealand Gear for bags and jackets made from waste or responsibly and ethically sourced materials; Fuata Moyo for refashioned and upcycled garments including tailored denim jackets and shirts, to dungarees and totes all adorned with exquisite, unique, hand-painted artworks; and Maven Sustainable for a handpicked range of women’s, men’s and children’s secondhand high street, boutique and designer clothes.
On the decision making process behind the concept store’s brand selection, Head of Marketing, Janine Du Plessis, explains that EGG takes careful measures to ensure that each brand’s story is in line with EGG’s values and encourages originality. The selection process includes an extensive criteria application document, research into the brand’s product – how it is sourced, made, and delivered – and finally a committee analysis to determine suitability to store and customer.
Some of EGG’s products are exclusively available in-store however there is an extensive offering to shop online. EGG has plans to open their first store in Rosebank, Johannesburg on 16 June.
Merchants on Long (Cape Town)
After a stint in Europe and armed with the vision to showcase the calibre of design talent in Africa, African luxury concept store, Merchants on Long was founded by Hanneli Rupert in 2009 officially opening its doors to the public in 2010.
“There is a global focus on African design and South Africa and our designers hold a central position in this. We were the first stockists of many of these designers and have been on the journey with them for a decade now, hence becoming known as the “home of African fashion,” says Rupert.
Merchants on Long’s offering is a curated mix of high fashion, homeware and lifestyle brands. They house over 50 South African designers across different disciplines. A few of these names include internationally acclaimed and award-winning designers, Sindiso Khumalo and Lara Klawikowski for bespoke dresses made from recycled, upcycled, and re-fabricated materials; MAXHOSA AFRICA and Lukhanyo Mdingi for iconic knit patterns and Rich Mnisi pieces juxtaposed fabric and motifs just to name a few.
Rupert explains that their choice of curation is based firmly on brand quality, authenticity, and originality with each brand for its sustainable and ethical practices and African heritage. “We have always looked for brands that have integrity in their story and production,” Rupert adds.
Customers can currently explore and purchase products from Merchants on Long at their V&A Waterfront store as well as the original Long street store. Their online store will be launching soon.
- Follow Merchants on Long here.
The Space (Different locations across South Africa)
The oldest of the six brick-and-mortar retail spaces for shopping local brands mentioned in this article, The Space has evolved into somewhat of a South African fashion designer’s retail institution since its beginnings in 2000.
Over two decades later, The Space boasts eight regional brick-and-mortar shops in Johannesburg (three stores), Pretoria (two stores), Cape Town (one store), and Durban (two stores), as well as a dedicated Space+Man outlet in Rosebank, menswear rails at The Space Mall of Africa, Gateway and The Pavilion, and an online store.
Tried and trusted for its designer apparel from dresses and jumpsuits to tops and bottoms by stalwart designers including, Amanda Laird Cherry and Colleen Eitzen, versatile enough to be worn every day or to occasions like weddings and cocktail parties, The Space has become a one-stop-shop for curating an exquisite and exclusively local wardrobe.
“The Space and the designers in our stable strive to create products that are not only beautiful but also uplift the communities around us. We strive for sustainability and carefully curate our collection of locally designed and manufactured garments, accessories, and gifting,” their website states.
Duck Duck Goose (Cape Town)
Located on the ever-bustling Bree Street in Cape Town, since 2020, is a neat slice of local lot called Duck Duck Goose. The retail space emerged from a long-standing dream of an inclusive, authentic space and platform to house and share his clothing brand, Good Good Good – familiar for their graphic tees and work with Mungo Mill – with other creatives, brands, and storytellers that he admires and respects manifested by creative director, Daniel Sher.
With a notable streetwear slant, Duck Duck Goose currently stock a selection of 16 South African lifestyle, accessory, homeware, and clothing brands including Wanda Lephoto, Nao Serati, and Thebe Magugu and considers almost every product in their store to be a gender-neutral item for any and every occasion.
Some of Duck Duck Goose’s stock is exclusively available in-store however they endeavour to make everything available online.
When you buy local, you choose with a conscience. You not only invest in local artisans, makers, and creators who are sustainably upskilling themselves, but you also invest in transparency, traceability, and accountability at every stage of a brand’s process (environmental and social) from sourcing raw materials to merchandising making your clothing investment so much more meaningful.
If you don’t live nearby to one of the retail spaces mentioned in this guide, you can consider browsing the virtual rails of the new South African app called The Local Edit App. The app enables its users to explore and buy from some of the most established South designers and brands all in one virtual place.
For those who are able to, on the importance of supporting and buying local, Convoy’s de Villiers ends, “We all need to get dressed with intention. Buying local means supporting small creative businesses that employ and empower communities. Together we grow the economy. You help create jobs for your friends and neighbours.”
- Images: Supplied by each retail space and sourced online
- Cover image: Convoy
- Duck Duck Goose Images: Frances Marais @francesmarais