YDE Deals, Specials & Catalogues

Started on a shoestring budget, YDE has become a lucrative clothing retailer.

The Young Designers Emporium (YDE) introduced an innovative clothing retail concept to the South African market. The business was started by Paul Simon. Having completed his studies in fashion, 21-year-old Simon came up with the idea when his father gave him a week to figure out his next career move or pack his bags and leave the family home. According to Simon, he came up with the idea on-the-fly during a family dinner when he was quizzed by his father and uncle about the business plan for opening a store that he claimed to have been working on. Simon decided to actually pursue the idea. He got together with nine of his fashion design classmates and they started looking for a site for their store. Given that none of them had any money to pay for rent, they struggled to get retail space in the desirable retail spaces around Cape Town. They eventually found an out-of-the-way building just off Green Market Square and launched YDE in 1995. Simon’s idea was to present clothing by a group of new designers from an industrial space with a party atmosphere. Simon managed to keep his costs and risk low by keeping only consignment stock.

YDE was a hit. It had a cool and edgy image that other clothing stores lacked at the time, and their target market of young, fashion-forward customers loved the idea of having one-off fashion items that couldn’t be found anywhere else. The brand became more prominent and grew to 12 stores in the space of a decade. In 2003, one of South Africa’s biggest clothing retail groups came knocking. Truworths International bought a stake in YDE, and by 2005 was the outright owner of the business. Instead of incorporating YDE clothing as a store-in-store in Truworth’s outlets, the strategy followed was to leave YDE as a standalone brand that continues to focus on local emerging designers catering to both male and female shoppers. There are currently 20 YDE stores located in various malls, each being approximately 350 square metres in size. The annual YDE Naked Sale is one of the store’s most anticipated events.

When Paul Simon sold YDE in 2005, it was a successful business generating a turnover of R160-million.

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