Cape Town CBD high-end retail poised for growth

Boasting 60% of Africa’s total of millionaires, South Africa is the only country on the continent with a developed luxury sector. This is according to global management consultancy firm, Bain & Company, which predicts that the local luxury goods market will grow between 20% and 30% over the next five years.

It is not just the international name brands that have tapped into the growing appetite for luxury goods amongst the growing affluent class. Home-grown high-end retailers are claiming their piece of the luxury goods market with their local production and curation of goods ranging from fashion and jewellery to leather goods, amongst other offerings.

High-end retailers in the Cape Town CBD in particular have been meeting the demand of big-spenders who flock to the Central City of Cape Town for bespoke pieces and luxury items not readily available in their home cities such as Lagos or Luanda, while Capetonians have also turned their discerning shopping gaze to local retailers for one-of-a-kind pieces.

“The Cape Town CBD is well-positioned to offer shoppers a retail experience that is fast matching that of some of the world’s most recognised high-end shopping districts,” says Rob Kane, Chairperson of the Central City Improvement District (CCID).

From London’s Bond or Sloane Street, Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich, Avenue Montaigne in Paris, or even the Ginza district in Tokyo, the allure of the most famous global high-end retail locations often lies in their on-the-street, “pavement- access” locations and in the distinctive neighbourhoods in which they are located.

“While some high-end retailers may opt for a mall environment, the retailers in the Cape Town Central City – much like their global counterparts – have opted to let the surrounds of the CBD form part of the overall package and retail experience for their clientele,” says Kane.

Boasting one of the cleanest and well-managed CBDs in the country,  a number of local high-end retailers have chosen to be based located within the pulse of the Central City.

Elbeth Gillis, prominent couture and wedding dress designer based in Bloem Street, says the reason she is not located in a shopping centre is that she have the freedom to set her studio’s operating hours and the rent is considerably less. “We also prefer the vibe in the Central City. There are a lot of small designer-type stores that complement each other, which turns the location into a creative hub.”

Located in bustling Long Street is businesswoman Hanneli Rupert’s concept store, Merchants on Long, which stocks carefully curated top African brands and goods. Housed in an art nouveau building that dates back to 1868, the concept store’s offering includes bespoke luxury stationery by The Letterpress Company, the LemLem range from Ethiopia by supermodel Liya Kebede, as well as Rupert’s own handmade, artisanal and luxurious handbag collection, Okapi. 

Previously located at the V&A Waterfront and now on the corner of Wale and lively Bree Street is the Cape Town Paul Smith store. Instead of tailored suits and haute couture collections that are the hallmark of the London line, Paul Smith has adapted his collection to reflect the culture and environment of Cape Town. The designer is known for picking interesting locations and buildings for his shops, from a bright pink box on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in the USA to a house built in 1730 in Nottingham in the UK, and of course the blue-painted Bree Street addition housed in a heritage building that dates back to the 1860s.

Also on Bree Street is Klûk CGDT, the home of the design team of Malcolm Klûk and Christiaan Gabriel du Toit. Housed behind an eye-catching facade painted an avant garde black (“Actually,” says Malcolm, “the colour is aniseed”), the duo had their eye on Bree Street for a number of years before purchasing the premises. “Bree Street spoke to us instinctively as the place to be,” says Malcolm. “And the 1930s influence of the building also speaks to our distinctive brand of design.”

Prins and Prins, Cape Town’s leading supplier of loose diamonds as well as other stones and fine bespoke jewellery, processes diamonds from their rough state into final masterpieces, and are located in the magnificent Huguenot House, on the corner of Loop and Hout Streets. This 18th century building, authentically restored and steeped in grandeur and heritage, is one of the reasons the retailer has not moved in 20 years.

“Over the years, we’ve seen more people increasingly looking to spend their money in an up market, relaxed yet professional establishment where good value and service are key,” says Stéfan Doveton-Moore, marketing and sales consultant at Prins and Prins. “At the same time both locals and international visitors have become increasingly aware of Cape Town’s rich history and heritage and are exploring the city looking for hidden gems in the CBD. We are perfectly positioned to be a part of that unique experience,” says Doveton-Moore. 

“The retail offering of any CBD is one that needs to be diverse enough to cater to different markets. There is no denying the growing numbers of discerning luxury shoppers both locally and internationally, and the growing bouquet of high-end retailers in the Cape Town CBD is poised not only to meet the demand of the booming luxury sector, but to thrive with it as well,” concludes Kane.

Fast Facts:

  • Other high-end retailers located in the Cape CBD include 
  • Errol Arendz Boutique – 66 Hout Street
  • Hendrik Vermeulen Couturier– 79 Hout Lane
  • Paul van Zyl Couture – 74 Loop Street
  • Kobus Dippenaar Couture- (also the creator of Anna Georgina and JJ Man) – 60 Loop Street

About CCID:

The Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) was established in 2000. One of 25 Central Improvement Districts (CIDs) today operational in the Cape Town Metropole, the CCID was the first CID of its kind in South Africa. The CCID is funded by property owners to provide complementary urban management services to a specific geographic area.  CCID services include supporting and augmenting the City of Cape Town’s safety and cleaning efforts in the Central City, ensuring that the environment is well managed, that social development issues are addressed and that the Central City is promoted as a leading business destination. The Cape Town Partnership is the managing agent of the CCID and thus has a strategic management relationship with CCID.


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