Known internationally for the last 20 years as an authentic high-end African brand with top quality t-shirts, clothing, sneakers and Afro Vintage designs, Magents has come home. After several years without local retail stores, they opened at Canal Walk in January. Founder and creative director Didier De Villiers tells us more.
Magents started in the 90’s. The initial dream was to have different brands under one roof. This developed into a store with only Magents branded goods. The idea of an African brand in those days was frowned upon. Most of us did not believe in ourselves, hence one of our first designs had a bold “AFRICAN” on the chest. The brand grew exponentially on the international market until 95% of sales were outside SA. Instead of expanding further, we chose to come back to our roots and restructure, to retain the original spirit of the brand and grow our footprint here at home.
Over the last few years we have gone through a total restructure of the line, moving our production to Africa from Asia and working with local Cape Town factories to develop the high quality fabrics and washes we require. Now we are focusing on Magents concept stores in Africa first. Historically, Cape Town has not been our strongest region but the opportunity at Canal Walk opened up first.
How did you find your premises?
We approached a couple of malls and Canal Walk was first to have an available space.
The mall attracts a good mixture of international visitors and locals, however this particular location within the mall isn’t our ideal spot. As a premium lifestyle brand with a higher price point than our neighbours there are better locations for us. It is a huge struggle to get quality locations for local brands in our malls. We hope to move within the mall once a suitable space becomes available.
Who are your neighbours?
Our neighbours are mostly streetwear, we are at the Checkers end of Canal Walk next to Soviet.
As you’d expect from a top mall, rentals are fairly expensive.
What is your shop footprint?
We started off with a strong midweek, due to international visitors, and now Cape Town locals are getting to know and enjoy our line, the weekends are filling up.
Do you have any expansion plans?
Do you operate online as well?
We believe online will be the main point of sale in five years’ time. We’re building a completely new online system which should be operational in August 2016 to cater for the local market.
What’s your most popular item?
Our t-shirts have always been our fastest moving category but recently our sneakers have picked up.
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Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied