Being a South African brand that is constantly updating its legacy means having the curiosity to ask what else can be done to show a love for local in what we wear, eat, cook or decorate our homes with. Finding sustainable solutions is something Woolworths and Head of Local Sourcing and Technology, Lawrence Pillay, are committed to.

“We pride ourselves on being the leaders in quality, innovation and sustainability, and in order for us to stay ahead, we constantly look at new avenues and new streams to generate new thinking and new ideas,” explains Lawrence. 

Woolworths’ Fabric and Innovation Indaba marks one such process where they will be looking to lean upon their supply base to present unison fashion and unison fabrics, with the new season in mind. Since one of the closest relationships we have is with our favorite denims, the retailer has invested in lessening their impact on the environment.

“The manufacturing of denim is inherently quite a dirty process in that you are applying an indigo dye and then you’re washing a lot of that dye off. And in that process, you’re using excessive water and you’re creating excessive chemical waste,” he says.

Woolworths’ denim processes are more sustainable in that they use sustainably sourced cotton for their denim and have introduced manufacturing processes that use far less water. In addition to that, they have ensured that the denim is produced in the safest environment, protecting the health of the manufacturers as well.

At the Fabric and Innovation Indaba , the brand’s focus on personalisation saw T-shirts printed on and denims lasered to a design of your choice, all with a focus on loving locally made fashion.

“We at Woolworths remain committed to the localisation strategy. We believe that we have to create a virtuous circle. The more jobs we create in South Africa, the more potential customers we build and to do that, we are driving an aggressive local strategy that involves bringing more product from offshore, onshore.”

Currently, 50% of what Woolworths buys comes out of Southern Africa 30% of which comes out of South Africa. Woolworths is looking to take that 30% to 40% in the next three years, with the aim to reach 65% by 2030. 

With that goal in mind, Woolworths has built a comprehensive local strategy that will see them replacing imported products with local products. In keeping with the localisation strategy, Woolworths has partnered with local designers to bring their product into their stores and bring it to life in a Woolworths environment. 

One of these designers is trailblazing artist and designer Karabo Poppy Moletsane, who collaborated with the brand to create a collection for Heritage Day.

“I really love the idea of celebrating unity and how South Africa has found a beautiful way to be so incredibly diverse but still be so unified as well,” she explains, “I created a collection that was celebrating that and I got to partner with Woolworths in doing that.” Karabo’s collection is the brand’s first gender neutral range. 

“When looking at Woolworths, I’ve always associated it as a heritage brand and for me, a heritage brand is a brand that focuses on the things that make a country unique and innovative and further bringing that country towards reaching its potential,” explains Karabo. Reducing our impact on the environment begins at home and it’s a major focus for Lead Homeware Product Technologist Ruhshana Samsodien.

“Woolworths is all about the difference so we try and do something that differentiates [us] from the rest of the market,” she says. Woolworths’s focus is all about loving local and as a result, have numerous South African suppliers that are upcycling polystyrene waste and recycled bottles into homeware goods. Pushing the boundaries and being transparent on how healthily we cook and eat is a field close to Chef Clement Pedro’s heart.

“When it comes to anything fashion, homeware, food, it’s all about sustainability and the impact we have on the environment. What I love about the new [Woolworths] cookware range, is the fact that you’re using the least amount of water,” he says. The message that what’s good for our planet is also good for us is carried in every locally made w beauty product sourced by Laura Naidu’s team.

“W Beauty is a proudly South African local brand. We are endorsed with beauty, without cruelty, meaning we do not test any of our products and animals and none of our products has any animal derived ingredients or byproducts, making us a 100% vegan friendly brand,” she says. 

W Beauty ensures that all their packaging are either recyclable, refillable or reusable. Moreover, they source ethical and sustainable ingredients in all their W Beauty products, explains Laura. 

“More and more we are finding that customers are not just interested in what you sell, but they are also interested in what you stand for and we are a brand that is built on quality and trust,” says Lawrence. 

“The customer trusts us to do the right thing for the brand. Careful consideration of how our product is made and where our product is made is paramount in building trust in the brand. Sustainability is all about this.”

That’s the difference. Love local when you shop Fashion, Beauty and Homeware at Woolworths available in-store, online and on the app.



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