Updated: Woolworths Partners With 8 Local Designers To Kickstart Their 2017 StyleBySA Campaign

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The Woolworths ‘StyleBySA’ campaign kick-started in 2014 where they enlisted Insta-stars as the faces of their campaign in an effort to tap into their Insta-fame and the local cool fashion culture influence. The campaign gained momentum season after season. Fast forward to 2017 and Woolworths launched their “StyleBySA”2017  season campaign –championed by home-grown design talent. The Woolworths’ 2017 “StyleBySA”  campaign featured a capsule collection by eight local designers who are trailblazing the industry, namely Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu, AKJP, Pichulik, Maria McCloy, Sol-Sol, Selfi and Young & Lazy. Something the retail chain has perfected is tapping into the culture to maximize their bottom lines, retain their coolness by association and assist their strategic partners where possible.

The media notes states “from modern streetwear, to footwear and accessories inspired by the continent, the debut collaboration was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.” I couldn’t agree more, it is hard not to be obsessed with the work of any of these former mentioned eight designers, if not all of them. The kids put in the hours and turnt it up, there is at least a piece from the each designers’ capsule collection I desperately need to spruce up my wardrobe. Adding to that, the show was well produced, well-seated, well-attended, widely covered, colourful and celebrated diversity. They even threw in a transgender female model to ensure that all the boxes were ticked. Loved it, way to go, mazel!


The media release received also states that “in a first for SAFW, the collection was available online straight from the runway” which I believe is flawed,  a simple desktop search (here and here) will inform you that in 2015, for his spring summer 2015 collection Gert Johan-Coetzee (GJC) partnered with the online store Spree. The partnership between the online store and the fashion designer allowed the public to shop the GJC ready-to-wear runway garments from anywhere in SA on spree.co.za and have the latest GJC collection delivered to their doorsteps before the end of that particular weekend.  The Woolworths media notes go on to say that, this see-no-buy-now show which was not new to SA Fashion Week  resulted “… in a frenzy of online sales throughout the evening.” However, fails to mention the numbers, for example how many items were sold the first night as well as which products were popular and so forth.


Picking up from the significant longstanding partnership between Edgars and SA Fashion Week, enter Woolworths in what they say their partnership and campaign was ‘to prioritise fast-tracking South Africa fashion from the runway to the rails.’ Charmaine Huet, Woolworths’ Group Director of Marketing and Sustainability, says, “As a passionately South African retailer we want to boost the visibility and viability of local designers. The quality of the work on show last night, and the response to it is compelling proof of the incredible local talent the South African fashion industry has on offer.’’ It is important to note that Woolworths was one of the first (if not the only first) to pioneer the concept of local design collaborations with the likes of Stoned Cherrie, Craig Native and Maya Prass collections over a decade ago. Credit where credit is due. The retail chain sees this partnership as “another step forward for the passionately local retailer” the media notes states. My question for Woolies is, as a retail chain that prides themselves on sustainability, what is their long-term strategy to ensure that this is not just another flash in the pan that will disappear into oblivion, will they, for example, be dedicating a local designers shop-in-shop in their stores across the country? Their efforts are exciting, commendable and widely celebrated. However, it also helps to have a holistic view and clarity in what they promise.


As soon as I got word of this partnership a few weeks, prior to SA Fashion Week, I was stoked and contacted the Woolworths in-house PR team for some answers that I had. To which they replied my email and told me to wait for the media release post the show for some answers. I can’t argue that the release answers some questions, but unfortunately, the information seemed incomprehensive – which prompted me to follow up for further information to which, needless to say, I still have not received. These were some of  the questions outlined in my email I would have loved to hear (or read) the response from team Woolies: Update (11/04/17) I have heard from team Woolies and here with the answers as they have promised:


  • What criteria did Woolworths use to select these specific designers? We looked for unique proudly SA Designers who are making unlimited impressions in the industry
  • Does Woolworths support these designers with resources to put these collections together? If yes, what resources are they – financial, business mentorship? etc. We provide them access to our full knowledge and supplier base. We upskill them to be able to deliver to a mass retail market.
  • If the collection will be available in Woolworths stores to shop, where will the clothes be produced? All clothes are produced using South African suppliers.
  • Is this a once off partnership; Woolworths capsule (Style By SA) collection x SA fashion designers in collaboration with SA Fashion Week? If not, how long is this partnership commitment for? Our aim is to develop long-term relationships with the designers. We don’t have a set period for the collaboration. At the moment we have a 3-year contract with SA Fashion week.


You can shop for the StyleBySA capsule collection exclusively online at www.woolworths.co.za thereafter the collection will be launched in selected Woolworths stores (Canal Walk Shopping Centre, Cape Town; Sandton City Shopping Centre, Johannesburg; Mall of Africa, Midrand; Menlyn Mall, Pretoria; Gateway Theatre of Shopping, Durban) from 12 April 2017.


ICYMI: Sneak backstage at the Woolworth ‘Style By SA‘ show here

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