South-Africa is the biggest luxury market in Africa. Rising star!

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Africa is an enormous continent with 1.3 Billion people and it represents 20% of all land in the world. In terms of luxury market, one country leads the way by far: South-Africa. With a total revenue of $ 2.8Billion, the country leads the way in terms of luxury goods and services. South Africa has a huge potential, not only in terms of creative artists but also in terms of purchase power.

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South Africa, a giant within a giant.

South-Africa is an amazing country at all levels. With its 11 official languages and a total GDP of $ 750Billion, the african giant represents the richness of Africa and also a big part of the continent history. On 31 May 1961, the country became a republic following a referendum in which white voters narrowly voted in favour thereof (the British-dominated Natalprovince rallied against the issue). Queen Elizabeth II was stripped of the title Queen of South Africa, and the last Governor-General, namely Charles Robberts Swart, became State President. As a concession to the Westminster system, the presidency remained parliamentary appointed and virtually powerless until P. W. Botha’s Constitution Act of 1983, which (intact in these regards) eliminated the office of Prime Minister and instated a near-unique “strong presidency” responsible to parliament. Pressured by other Commonwealth of Nations countries, South Africa left the organisation in 1961 and was readmitted only in 1994.


In 1990 the National Party government took the first step towards dismantling discrimination when it lifted the ban on the African National Congress and other political organisations. It released Nelson Mandela from prison after twenty-seven years’ serving a sentence for sabotage. A negotiation process followed. With approval from an predominantly white referendum, the government repealed apartheid legislation. South Africa also destroyed its nuclear arsenal and acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. South Africa held its first universal elections in 1994, which the ANC won by an overwhelming majority. It has been in power ever since. The country rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations.

Today, the country has 55 million inhabitants, which makes South Africa the 25th biggest country in the world. Johannesburg is the biggest city of the country with its 997’000 inhabitants. It is situated in the province of Gauteng, considered one of the richest areas of the country.

South Africa, a new luxury market with great potential

The market for luxury goods in South Africa posted stable growth during 2014 despite the local currency taking a dip in terms of its strength against major currencies. Stable growth was driven by increased demand from foreign visitors to the country, who took advantage of the weaker currency, which made some products relatively cheaper than those found in their respective home countries. These visitors were also enticed to buy luxury products by the existing tax rebates to visitors to South Africa.


South Africa remained a fairly stable economy during 2014 when contrasted with most African countries. The overall effect has been a general increase in the number of people visiting from other African nations with an intention to tour the country as well as do some shopping. The retail environment in South Africa is highly competitive due to multiple players in various segments of the retail industry. The presence of some global luxury brands in the country also made South Africa an alternative destination for luxury consumers from other African states.

It has become the norm in South Africa for retailers of luxury products to be housed in one common area, while ordinary retailers, by contrast, are evenly distributed across the country. Most of South Africa’s luxury retailers are housed in two major shopping malls namely V&A Waterfront as well as Sandton City, where consumers of luxury goods generally do their shopping. Distribution of luxury products is also restricted to exclusive boutiques with the exception of a few brands and products, such as super premium beauty and personal care products, which are sold through different types of retailers ranging from specialist stores to department stores and apparel retailers.

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Consumer demand trends in South Africa are expected to be well in line with global fashion trends as dictated by established global brands. Categories such as personal accessories as well designer apparel are expected to be highly driven by such brands. Brands such as Gucci, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton are expected to remain as key consumer benchmarks for any product which may enter the market over the forecast period. The use of celebrities to endorse brands would be expected to also help influence fashion trends in South Africa where fashion magazines currently play a huge role in informing consumers.

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The market for luxury products in South Africa is highly dominated by international brands. It is often the norm that consumers perceive any international product to be of good quality when contrasted with similar goods in South Africa. This has been mainly as a result of the brand heritage that has been built by many global brands over the years. International brands often have a marketing edge as they can easily promote products in different countries at the same time due to the fact that most of these luxury products are not unique to individual countries. A typical example would be the luxury timepieces category where brands such as Tag, Cartier and many others have made their name across the globe and they require less effort for consumers to relate to such products.

One interesting shopping address is Apsley Group. The Apsley Group represents exclusively some of the finest international luxury brands available today. The philosophy of our group is understated elegance. Our aim is to create a shopping experience unsurpassed in South Africa similar to that of Paris, Milan, London and New York, the fashion centers of the world. Some of these brands are exclusively present only at Apsley. Here are some of the iconic luxury brands you can find there: Bottega Veneta, Etro, Lanvin, Loro Piana, Celine, Azzedine Alaia, Christian Louboutin, Pomellato, Vhernier, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes Table, St Louis Crystal, Ralph Lauren Home, Byredo, Acqua di Parma, Cire Trudon, Etro Home, Costes, Lalique, Loro Piana Home and William Yeoward Crystal. There are 2 shops in Johannesburg and one in Capetown. 


South Africa creativity raises for local luxury brands

South Africa has a tremendous cultural heritage and richness and a new generation of creators is rising. They find their legitimate place  in the luxury landscape of the country. Discover Bianca Warren, South African designer who proves fashion is where creativity, hard working and style sit. Durban in South Africa is definitely the place. Check here our review about her.


In terms of new fashion designers arising, we definitely would highlight Tarryn Shepherd and its brand Rooi Rok Bokkie. This new brand is a proudly South African Ladies wear range by designer Tarryn Shepherd. The ready to wear range is both fashionable and feminine and appeals to women of all ages. All fabrics are printed locally using owned designs, with inspiration for the prints coming from South African roots. Directly translated from Afrikaans “Rooi Rok Bokkie” means red dress little buck. Bokkie is a term of endearment used for those you love. Dresses are a key item in all collections, as well as Kimonos. The unique and beautiful prints add to the appeal of all ranges, with subtle trim details that make the garment extra special. Tarryn’s love of vintage often translates in the range with a slightly modern twist (




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Tarryn Shepherd fashion is colorful, vibrant, clever and feminine. There is definitely a lot of talent in this young designer and hopefully it is just the beginning.


Last highlight of this article is Palesa Mokubung Creator of the avant-garde fashion label Mantsho, ‘brutally black,’ Palesa Mokubung gained international attention after she was included in the Daimler Contemporary Art exhibition in Berlin. Challenging conventional fashion norms, Mokubung takes inspiration from her heritage as much as from a kaleidoscope of different design staples from different eras in fashion history, breaking down their traditional barriers and reconstructing them. Mokubung was nominated for the South African Art and Culture Award, and the winner of Greece’s Annual Fashion Forward International Thessaloniki show.Here is her latest collection Spring-Summer 2015:

As we can see, South Africa is an amazing country by its diversity, richness and dynamism. The luxury industry has an interesting opportunity to develop the market and local initiatives reach the international luxury standards in terms of distribution. Local luxury brands start getting an international aura and amazing designers are rising. South Africa is a giant within a giant.



Info sourced at Euromonitor,, Rooi-rok-bokkie, and wikipedia. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. 

José Amorim

José Amorim has been working in the luxury industry for more than 15 years. In the past 8 years, he joined his personal passion for digital culture and his luxury background to develop digital strategies for premium brands. He is the founder of and is happy to share his passion here.