Loxion Kulca is gearing up to take back the streets
PIRACY and the death of a business partner almost squeezed the life out of Loxion Kulca – the once-thriving empire and fashion authority of South Africa’s street wear.
The Kwaito chic street gear, which is the brainchild of Johannesburg entrepreneurs Wandi Nzimande and Sechaba Mogale, used to be the talk of the town in the early 2000s.
It was synonymous with urban street culture. It sponsored more than 20 local movies and more than 100 music videos in its prime while netting an annual turnover of R80-million – a rare feat for a South African clothing brand at the time.
“At some stage this brand became bigger than us. It had a different meaning to different people. To us it was a means to an end while to some people it gave them belief and others created music with it. Some people even thought we were a political party,” Nzimande said.
However, the hype surrounding Loxion Kulcha soon faded and its merchandise is hard to find on shelves.
Nzimande would not say how much it is making now.
“We cut back on media exposure. We realised that we had created so much demand,” he said.
“With great demand comes great supply and if you can’t supply, other people will supply for you. In this case we had a lot of fake merchandise that went [onto] the streets. We then took a decision to sponsor less artists, spend less on events and advertising. I also stopped doing interviews. I felt like there was no story to tell; we were just glorified tailors.”
Nzimande said piracy also led to the collapse of their headwear division, the main profitmaking unit, which sold more than 200 000 hats annually.
“It was not because people didn’t like us. We always saw people wearing fake hats in the streets. At one stage there was R10-million worth of fake Loxion Kulca goods at any given time being sold in the streets. That really killed our business; the honeymoon phase was over.”
In 1999 Nzimande and Mogale partnered with clothing franchiser Brian Abrahams, who also loaned them R2 000 as start-up capital.
Abrahams died in a motorbike accident in 2003 and this was followed by Mogale’s sudden resignation from the company. This was a big setback for the brand.
“I lost inspiration. Brian wasn’t just a partner, he was a mentor... Sechaba wanted to grow elsewhere and to focus on his family. I took it badly.”
Nzimande is now revamping the brand, moving away from the mass market and supplying independent stores. He will also launch an online store soon.
“If you can’t supply, other people will supply for you
NEW BEGINNINGS: Wandi Nzimande, co-founder of Loxion Kulca