Through Thick and Thin
When discussing major technological advances and how they are changing the world we live in, many marketers often refer to this time as the “age of disruption”. I’ve always found it to be a strong, even harsh word, but there really isn’t a better descriptor for the ever-changing landscape we as consumers face. In the Internet age of instant gratification and information overload, the world – once a big, indescribable mystery only understood through personal exploration – has become as small as one’s local neighbourhood.
This in itself has changed the manner and the frequency with which marketers reach and speak to us, and has changed the way we discover and engage with brands and products. The world of fashion, driven by our collective fascination with all things beautiful and our desire to always look our best, has also been radically impacted by this disruptive information age. Fashion retail in the traditional sense remains in decline, and whether it’s a high-end designer brand or your favourite clothing store, shopping for clothing and accessories has become a 24/7/365 business – if you’re not online, you’re a non-entity.
One could argue the negative side of this new world, of course, but by and large I think it is positive. The days of going to specific shopping centres to shop at specific stores for particular brands are gone, and greater access to the things you want, when you want it, is utterly convenient and in many instances cost-effective.
Yet despite this modern age, there has also been a resurgence in enjoying life at a slower pace, an example being spending weekends at markets. Many an aspiring fashion designer has, in recent years, built up a large and loyal following by showing and selling their creations at popular lifestyle markets all over our country – think of The Neighbourgoods Market in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
While seemingly contradictory concepts, the notion of an all-encompassing online presence and a physical manifestation in a non-traditional, “slow” setting are superbly complementary. The Internet and social media has made it possible for smaller brands to create and establish their own presence in the same space as established brands. At the same time, modern-day markets give you a physical presence in a space where your consumers, who have evolved from the mall-era, are spending their time. It’s a fabulous combination that ultimately makes small fashion businesses more viable and the entire industry more competitive – and the fashionable consumer is the ultimate winner.
One of my most recent finds in this space is Durban-based HIS apparel. I first discovered the brand through Instagram, and was immediately impressed with the high quality, beautifully styled images that are posted regularly. Logically, my next step was to visit its website and I was again immensely impressed: It is a modern, intuitive design showcasing beautiful products through beautifully styled images, complete with look-books and a shopping function.
Yet HIS apparel is not a global brand and doesn’t have a retail space in the biggest shopping centres. It does its business online, and has a weekly presence at the Shongweni Farmers & Craft Market at the Shongweni Reserve, a stone’s throw from Pinetown in Kwazulu-natal.
Even more inspiring is that HIS apparel is a family-run business. Created by a mom, Debbie Carrie, the early stages of the journey were spent crafting the wardrobes of her two stylish sons. When her eldest son, Stephen, came back empty-handed after trawling every possible store looking for just the right items for his wedding, a son’s frustration paired with a mom’s nimble hands. At the wedding, the groom and all his groomsmen were dressed head-to-toe in what would become the HIS apparel brand. It wasn’t long before Debbie’s daughter, Meg, was added to the mix and Dad was roped in to manage the admin side of things.
Today, HIS apparel prides itself on quality fit and finish. “We spent a year on our shirts alone,” explains Debbie, “trying them on countless body shapes and tweaking our pattern to ensure the best fit all round. Our aim is to bring you garments that are timeless and essential for every man’s wardrobe. We’re also passionate about working with local industry, and we’re proud to say that all our garments are locally produced.”
Apart from a wide selection of beautiful shirts that can be dressed-up or down, HIS apparel also offers a selection of T-shirts, as well as an extensive collection of accessories comprising ties, bowties, and pocket squares. “Our love for connecting with people is the drive behind our brand,” Debbie says. “Our hope is that we will create pieces that would journey with you, from engagements to job interviews, from weekends away to weddings. We want to be part of the big moments as well as the small.”
For more info, visit hisapparel.co.za.