The growing business was relocated to a design studio in Braamfontein
close to the inner city (see Figure 1), which allowed better access to fabric suppliers
in Fordsburg and the inner city, as well as improved contacts with other
young designers and the local fashion network as a whole. More recently, Sun
Goddess relocated again to the decentralized shopping and commercial node of
Rosebank, where the enterprise operates from a new retail store at The Zone.
From its Rosebank base, expansion has occurred to other parts of Johannesburg
and beyond to other South African cities. By-end 2005 Sun Goddess had four
retail outlets, including the store in Rosebank. The other stores are all located in
upper-income shopping areas, at the Gateway shopping center outside of Durban,
the Waterfront in Cape Town, and Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Sun Goddess has focused its retailing strategy upon its own outlets and has esDeveloping
the Fashion Industry in Africa 229
chewed supplier relationships with the large retail chains such as Woolworths or
Edgars. For Vanya, to do so would mean the creating of “watered-down”, less
expensive garments, which would move away from the desire to preserve ‘pure’
ethnic African cultural designs. Although targeted at the middle to upper income
brackets, Sun Goddess products are aimed at consumers who identify with (and
can afford) its designer label that radiates with ethnic flair. The market for the
goods of Sun Goddess includes both foreign tourists as, well as domestic customers,
particularly affluent orthodox Muslim and Jewish women, who often
favour the company’s long, traditional, A-line skirts.
Branding has been paramount to the success of Sun Goddess. Vanya explains
that such branding does not simply involve coming up with new and creative
clothing designs but incorporates also the manner in which service is packaged
and the way the staff in each of the stores present themselves. The design process
within the business remains in-house. Sun Goddess makes a concerted effort to
employ only black designers. The Mangalisos believe that they have a moral
responsibility to uplift South Africa’s black population, who were disadvantaged
particularly under apartheid. According to Vanya, Black Economic Empowerment,
which is a South African government led initiative targeted to expand the
involvement and strength of black participation in the South African economy, is
“about making certain business choices and decisions”.
The designs adopted by Sun Goddess stem from original designs used by African
peoples (particularly of the Xhosa culture) since the seventeenth century. yanzic0626.
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