Fashion designers have been forced to be innovative and think out of the box during the time of social-distancing and business slowing down, as fewer legs walk into stores. Designer clothing isn’t in high demand with no high profile events to attend. Lockdown is a chance to diversify and venture into unorthodox items.
Creative director and fashion label owner Paledi Segapo of Joburg-based fashion brand Palse is currently running a new online competition called ‘The search for Palse’s new ambassador’. The winner will also be signed up with Sync Model management agency.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Segapo saw the opportunity to diversify and venture into unorthodox items that included more than clothing. His brand is a fashion label specialising primarily in custom-made apparel, but he also offers ready-to-wear items. Palse has added brand extensions and is currently selling items like coffee mugs, diaries, among other things.
The decision was taken in response to a drop in sales due to not being able to be fully operational during lockdown. Sales dropped tremendously, especially because the Johannesburg store couldn’t operate during the more stringent lockdown levels.
This, unfortunately, impacted on Segapo’s operations on a business and financial level.
“We have a store which we closed during Level 5 as we had to comply with government regulations,” said Segapo.
His business often required customers to pre-order speciality outfits for high-profile events they would be attending, such as the Durban July.
Designers get many clients because of events and the lack thereof can significantly dent their pockets. Segapo is very understanding of people’s financial needs at the present moment.
“There is currently no social gathering and consequently it is no longer a client’s priority to order custom-made clothes.
“People would rather focus on what’s essential for them at the moment. I don’t think it’s a priority right now to be acquiring brand-new designer clothes.”
He considers himself an advocate for adaptability and looking at alternative ways of going about things to keep a business running.
“I think it’s a matter of adapting to the new normal, so to speak, and having to find alternatives to staying afloat. Look, it is certainly not going to be easy for us all but I suppose every creative entrepreneur is currently forced to come up with a new way of thinking, working smarter and being innovative,” he said.
Segapo views this time as an opportunity for designers to use technology to advance their businesses.
“This is the right time not to be a foe to technology. We’re still revisiting the new strategies that we will be implementing.”
He is being strategic about the business because attempting new methods involves a degree of adjustment.
“The truth is, things are currently unfolding at a snail’s pace. I regard this as an opportunity to think long and hard and identify business gaps. In the mid to long term this will result in formulating and running with a new, robust vision,” he said.
“I’m currently running a new competition called the search for Palse’s new ambassador. The winner will also be signed up with Sync Model management agency,” he said.
Segapo envisages major changes in the industry going forward.
“Designers are finding themselves forced or having to sit back, reassess the way they live, work and operate.
“This is enabling us to review our perspective consumption habits and how fashion shows have been. We need to think about how we can shape the future of runways.”
A big event on the fashion calendar is Fashion Week, where he was often one of the most anticipated designers. This year, the event was postponed for the first time. Segapo sees the positive in this as he comes up with new ways of satisfying consumers.