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Designer label Thomas Pink opens shirt store in SA
Designer label Thomas Pink opens shirt store in SA

Designer label Thomas Pink opens shirt store in SA


Business Day - Jun 28th 2012, 08:41

Large-collared shirts, such as the ones sported by so-called tenderpreneurs in SA, are out of fashion this season, at least according to LVMH-owned Thomas Pink, which opens its first store in Africa today. 

As growth slows in more mature markets in Europe and the US, many luxury goods makers have set their sights on Africa and other emerging markets.

In March, Richemont, owners of brands such as Cartier, Montblanc and IWC, delivered sparkling results thanks to growth from its Asia-Pacific region.

Besides the new store in Hyde Park Shopping Centre in Johannesburg, Thomas Pink, a high-end shirt maker, is also eyeing sites in Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria, the company’s merchandising, buying and distribution director, Melanie Traub, said yesterday.

However, collars would be back to a standard size this season and, as in recessionary times, white and blue shirts will be a staple in men’s wardrobes, Ms Traub said.

Certain colours are also preferable during economically challenging times. Much like what scientists call the lipstick effect, where women facing an economic crisis will buy less costly luxury goods such as beauty products, men at the same time will buy good quality suits or a shirt for potential job interviews.

During a recession, jobs are more vital than ever and competition is even more intense, or so the theory goes, and the best way to impress is with a new shirt.

Sales at LVMH-owned Thomas Pink have been "robust" during the recession, Ms Traub said. "Different markets like different things. No loud colours such as red are worn during a recession. However, men are getting used to wearing more colour," she said.

The store in Hyde Park will stock about 10 varieties of white shirts, with the average shirt retailing at R1300.

The shirts are made in the UK, from the highest grade of cotton, Ms Traub said.

However, Dion Chang, founder of Flux Trends, believes it is the heritage of luxury brands such as Thomas Pink that lures the emerging market.

"It goes beyond being a status symbol in the transient, digital world that we live in; people crave something solid and anchored, which brands such as these deliver," he said.

There are more than 90 Thomas Pink stores around the world, including in the US, France, Mexico, Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, China and Canada.

The UK-based company has teamed up with McCullagh & Bothwell, which has been supplying high-end luxury men’s clothing to the South African market for 116 years.

The company often finds local partners in different territories.

"We are very excited at the opportunity to launch our brand in SA," said president and CEO Jonathan Heilbron.

"In the McCullagh & Bothwell Group we have found a partner that not only understands and resonates our brand values, but that also has a winning combination of people, infrastructure and local knowledge to offer." 

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