The search for SA's fashion super-brands

The names alone are evocative—Stoned Cherrie, Black Coffee, Sun Goddess—and the clothes they are stitched into even more so.

No surprise, then, that the fitted bodices and A-line skirts made famous by the Stoned Cherrie label—and other, distinctively African designs—have become a common sight on local streets: a far cry from the situation a decade ago, when the fashions on display in South Africa were often indistinguishable from those in Europe.

Acknowledging the success of this new wave of designs, a major retail chain has marketed the clothes of Stoned Cherrie and other talents, such as Craig Native. The United States magazine Newsweek has also singled out South Africa’s fashion expertise.

But, can the country’s celebrated designers make the leap to the international stage, to take advantage of the huge pool of well-heeled consumers in Europe, the US and wealthy parts of the Far East? Could the A-line skirt become fashion shorthand along the lines of the Chanel suit—and be similarly reinvented, season after season?

There are signs that the South African “look” appeals to a foreign market.

A Spanish retailer, El Corte InglÃ.

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