Apparel | TLK by Lukhanyo

The Basics To Being Niche

How does one create for a niche market? I believe that fashion designers that choose to take this particular route instantly give themselves a competitive advantage in terms of business and creativity. I believe – or rather, hope – that creatives’ aim is to inspire, attract, evoke and cater to their customer’s desires. I revel in being in Cape Town in a time where there is an enormous amount of positive energy that is fueling each creative that is waiting to burst those internal juices of pure love and creativity – the kind of energy that makes you want you to just create! The hype around our future creative leaders is growing, and it is so exciting to see the diversity and innovation that these young talents are oozing out.


I don’t have business experience when it comes to running a formal label, but I have been fortunate enough to be instilled with primary business tools and skills that are essential for design and business thinking. During this time last year, I attended GIBS (Gordon’s Institute of Business Science) a product of Witswaterstrand University, where I gained knowledge on business ethics and skills. Being there opened my mind by allowing me to separate my heart and my head when it comes to running a fashion label. One doesn’t realise all the channels that are linked when creating a business. The interior and exterior co-exist within one another, meaning that decisions made may alter one or the other.


When one wants to cater for a niche market, one needs to be attentive to and intuitive about the exterior world, and listen to the desires and needs of the small unique market. I would like to think that most designers want to be different from the next, but having differentiation has to mean that the potential product has to be tailored for those that you intend on creating it for. Knowing the consumer’s needs enables you to formalize business strategies and product developments.


When innovation is used in product development and business, this instantly becomes a game change for future fashion business leaders. Today’s youth in South Africa is fed with social media and ‘internet’ lifestyles that we see on tumblr and instagram. With the emergence of ‘hipstersteria’ came urban kids who shape trends and styles, using their bodies as canvas’ to represent  carbon copies of these trends. The ones emerging are young, creative, driven, passionate and have a zest for life. Because we are young, we should know what the other young cats want. It is important for emerging and aspiring South African designers to recognise and cater for that niche.


Designers that aspire to cater for a niche market through means of business and design should use Globalisation as a tool to access the world because it truly is your oyster. Digitisation introduces social media and electronic transfer of data, and having this kind of accessibility is so rad in this life time. With fragmentation, one has to focus on the value chain of society and the potential/desired target market that they want to cater for. When one chooses to grasp and adopt these aspects in their business and design life, it already enhances their capabilities of understanding the niche market and making their products a beacon of meeting those desires.


Photographer : Mpumelelo Macu