“EGALITY sells fashion, so we should be at fashion week. It’s part of our brand,” Felicity Spies, the owner of EGALITY in Parkhurst, Johannesburg says when I ask why she feels it’s important to her that she is visible in fashion circles. She’s probably the only boutique owner- certainly the only one I know of- who has been consistently visible in the local fashion scene for several years now. At fashion week, launches, here and there, Felicity is most certain to be there, keeping her finger on the pulse of what is going on in the industry.
Felicity moved to South Africa from the UK in 2007 while she was working as a strategy consultant for Bain & Company and says she was struck by the lack of options for stylish designer brands which were well made but affordable. “I found myself trekking back to London for my shopping and saw many friends were doing the same,” she says. And with that, she decided: “business opportunity”.
“There were many interesting international labels available in South Africa but I noticed that few retailers were really taking advantage of the local talent. I set out to explore the industry and found that there were almost no multi-brand retail stores in the slightly higher end of the market and that as a buyer I could basically cherry pick the best talent from the local runways.”
In March of 2011, the doors to her EGALITY swung open and the business just keeps growing.
Brands stocked at the Parkhurst, Johannesburg boutique include Seargent Pepper, Marianne Fassler, AVANT, Laduma Ngxokolo, Guillotine, Anmari Honiball and Pichulik, among others. Felicity brought Anmari Honiball in after the designer showcased as an entrant in the ELLE Rising Star Designer competition in 2012. “Many of the local brands we showcase were literally born at EGALITY,” she says. “As a result we have walked hand-in-hand with them as they built up production capacity, a core range of signature styles and a brand that resonates in the market. All these things are hard and take both experience and cash to achieve. Not surprisingly there have been a large number of casualties along the way.”
Of AVANT, specifically, Felicity says: “We literally started our businesses in the same month and have been working together pretty much every day since then! At first, I was far too emotionally involved in their success and development. However, we managed to work through our roles and now we have a great working relationship and her brand is flourishing at EGALITY.”
EGALITY is located at 25, 4th Avenue, Parkhurst, Johannesburg. They open 7 days a week, between 9am and 6pm.
By Sandiso Ngubane
Featured Image: Pichulik