As I’ve mentioned before, prior to my current career in media, I worked as a fashion buyer. I worked for three major SA retailers, over seven years. I am well versed in the challenges fashion retailers face when it comes to balancing fashionability and satisfying the often not so fashion forward SA consumer. I’ve watched as retailers tried to work on a fashionable image, whilst only paying lip service to actual fashionability when it came to merchandise. For good reason too, the fact is that most of the money lies in trading that unfashionable merchandise.
I left retail a little over three years ago, and I’ve rarely visited department stores since. I hate shopping. So I could be a bit out of touch with what is actually happening in retail, but from chatting to friends in retail it seems that they are still dealing with those familiar issues. Which brings me to Mr P. As an ex retail person, I’m genuinely fascinated with the way they have rebranded themselves. These days fashionability is one of the first things that come to mind when people think of Mr P, more so than discount ranges, and that’s no accident.
The first Mr P event I covered was three years ago, when a bunch of us (fashion editors and bloggers) were flown up to Mr P HQ, for a roof top lunch and an intro to their latest range. It was a generous event, without feeling like corners had been cut. Things were also put in place to encourage maximum social media engagement.
Since then, there’s been another joburg lunch which I featured here, which also brought on board these amazing names from the world of fashion design, including british designer Henry Holland, and our very own Anisa Mpungwe of Loincloth and Ashes.
Then there was the ELLE & Mr P collabo on the RisingStar Design Awards
Then there was this party in Cape Town, where once again they gathered together the most influential names in fashion media.
This time around, last week Thursday, they blocked off the coolest part of Braamfontein’s Juta street in Johannesburg, and they got together some of the fashion industry and youth culture’s most influential voices for a kick ass street party to celebrate their denim campaign. A campaign which by the way uses content freely generated by friends and fans of the brand, including some of the country’s most followed fashion bloggers. You can follow the campaign on the #MRPdenim hashtag.
I go to a lot of events, and I have a bit of an obsession with how businesses run their PR. I also listen to feedback from a lot of the guests at industry shindigs, and no matter how much bubbly they are fed, so much of the feedback swings from lukewarm feels to straight up negative.
Without sounding like a total sycophant, I must say I always get the best feedback from people at these Mr P parties. It’s no secret that I think they are fucking amazing. Like I said, I am no longer in retail, so I don’t quite follow the sales numbers, except the occasional article in the Financial Mail. Even then, I’m not great at analyzing the numbers. So I have no idea how all this affects the bottom line. But I do understand fashionability and branding, and right now, Mr P is succeeding in that dept.
If I worked in the marking dept of another major SA retailer, and I was tasked with improving the fashion image, and growing a youthful consumer base, I’d take a closer look at Mr P, I’d look at these fine young thangs, partying , tweeting , instagramming together with some of the country’s fashion and youth culture voices, I’d pay attention, I’d ask myself, “Is my brand looking this kinda youthful, this kinda relevant?”
LATER AT THE GREAT DANE, AROUND THE CORNER FROM THE MR P STREET PARTY