South African fashion finds a home with exciting new hub for bright young designers in Mall of Africa
The Mall of Africa has become home to some of the freshest local fashion signatures with the opening of KOOP Studio, a hub for up-and-coming young designers on the upper level close to buzzy Town Square
KOOP Studio will carry at least twelve collections at any time which will be interchanged regularly to ensure ongoing variety and excitement. It is a collaborative venture between seasoned retailer, Sandy Rogers and industry stalwart, Lucilla Booyzen, who has been spearheading the development of a vibrant local design culture as director of South African Fashion Week for the past 23 years.
Brands range from gorgeous women’s occasion wear from Ezokhetho, IsiZulu for “carefully chosen as being the best or most suitable” which aims to tell African stories using fabric, Thabiso Molelekoa’s Dolz bespoke range of classic wear for both men and women to Dope Motherhood’s lounge wear with sass for modern moms as well as hip and happening streetwear from signatures Bi Parel and BLVNK.
Also included is proudly South African luggage brand, There and Back as well as a range of patterned scarves, blankets and accessories showcasing each of the participating designers’ distinctive prints and patterns.
According to Rogers, this highly visible retail presence in the centre of a glamorous mall which during pre-Covid-19 times drew approximately 1.3 million visitors per month, will allow these young entrepreneurs to fast-track their brands considerably.
“One of the greatest impediments to the development of a local fashion culture has been the prohibitively high rental costs in major regional centres such as Mall of Africa. By necessity, young designers are typically in studios off the beaten track without access to target markets who could afford to support them.
KOOP Studio and The Faktory, where we design and manufacture, are fortunate to operate from the new Victoria Yards semi-industrial development in Lorentzville. This is an incredibly beautiful environment to work in but does not have any real retail footprint. A presence in the Mall of Africa will undoubtedly be a game changer for all these start-ups and the development of local fashion,” she said.
According to Michael Clampett, head of Asset and Property Management-Retail of Attacq Limited, the owners of Mall of Africa, the opening of KOOP Studio follows the enormous success that designer Laduma Ngxokolo has experienced with his MaXhosa knitwear since opening a small store on the mall’s lower level in 2018.
Within a year, the appetite for Ngxokolo’s signature Xhosa-inspired modern knits was so voracious that the brand had to relocate to a much larger flagship store on the upper level and Ngxokolo became one of the centre’s high profile brand ambassadors.
“Mall of Africa is firmly on track to become the continent’s premier destination for top local design. MaXhosa’s success confirmed our conviction that consumers are increasingly wanting to express a contemporary, yet uniquely African, fashion identity. This, and the fact that we are acutely aware of the need to stimulate the local economy, and local job creation, lies at the heart of our strategy,” he explains.”
In line with tailoring its merchandise mix to support local brands, Mall of Africa has also recently become SAFW’s new host. The three-year partnership will kick-off in October with the staging of South Africa’s first hybrid designer collections showcase.
Twenty-six runway shows featuring collections shot at different locations in the mall, will be streamed digitally over three days from 22 – 24 October.
This will be followed by the SAFW Trade Show in the mall’s Crystal Court with more than fifty designers of mens - and womenswear as well as accessories ranging from footwear and handbags to costume jewellery and millinery from 1 – 3 November and the SAFW Pop Up Shop where fashion lovers will be able to interact and buy directly from all the participating designers from 27 – 29 November, also in the Crystal Court.
Find the freshest local fashion collections at the recently opened KOOP Studio in the Mall of Africa where at least twelve up-and-coming new signatures will be featured and regularly interchanged to ensure on-going variety and excitement. Amongst others, these brands range from gorgeous women’s occasion wear from Ezokhetho, IsiZulu for “carefully chosen as being the best or most suitable” which aims to tell African stories using fabric, Thabiso Molelekoa’s Dolz bespoke range of classic wear for both men and women to Dope Motherhood’s lounge wear with sass for modern moms as well as hip and happening streetwear from signatures Bi Parel and BLVNK. Mall of Africa aims to become the continent’s premier destination for top local design, says Michael Clampett, Head of Asset and Property Management-Retail of Attacq Limited. From right: Palesa Moreko, Store Manager, and Kabelo Rangaka, Sales Assistant
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