First Thursday: 99 Design Store
We are big believers in the power of tangible spaces. While e-commerce is one of our mainstays, and is a necessary tool for the world today; we remain focused on offering our community direct, in-person experiences, too. This is how we share ideas and execute visions; and being together, with all of you, under one roof at our Exchange Building has seen our perspective on design and culture propel forward in a way that we can hardly imagine. Everyone who walks through our doors in the inner city of Cape Town’s CBD does so for an aligned purpose; for the betterment of art, fashion, music, products and experiences for South Africa. This is why our next event is one that is so exciting - because it's a further celebration of the local scene, and a bridge between us and some of the Joburg creatives and wayshowers that we admire. We invite you to join us for a special collaboration: a Pop-Up show with 99 Design Store in Johannesburg.

Tayla Foong is a multi-hyphenate orchestrator in Joburg, who alongside her own agency, Dear Friends, is the progenitor of 99 Design Store; Braamfontein’s answer to the curated, collective showcase of local design. Tayla explains the vision behind 99 Design, 

“We opened the store last year in September. We wanted to create a really curated, multi-label design store in Johannesburg, and it's a concept that’s been popping up all over the world for a long time. We were also inspired by you guys at Lemkus, and places like Duck Duck Goose and Pot Plant Club - but here in Braamfontein, there was nothing we felt catered specifically to the designers that we were interacting with. As a whole, 99 Juta is a design building; so its initial purpose was to house local furniture brands like Dokter and Missus, and it was their idea to have this creative hub within the inner city. I’ve been part of 99 Juta’s inception since 2018, and 99 Design brings in fashion design specifically, so that the building and our community have a physical space that reflects their visions and to get their products out into the city.” 

With their precise electric blue brand language, 99 Design is a Joburg staple; and Tayla stresses the importance for their community to be able to appreciate local brands in-person; there is no comparison to the feeling of fabric in your hands, or fitting a garment in real time. Tayla makes the case for why their priority remains front-facing before e-commerce, and why that is unique, 

“The thing about our space is that it is only physical, and while we are hoping to go online - we are really focused on the tangibility of our physical store. Pop-ups are really important for us in being able to share and spread what we are doing, so the short and ‘activation’ style of pop-ups help us maintain the essence of 99 Design as a physical experience, while not being limited just to our home in Braamfontein. We plan to do many more pop-ups locally and internationally as opposed to going e-commerce, and people get to experience the clothes directly. Community is also essential to what we do, and there’s no better way to do that than through physical spaces.”

At Lemkus, we continue to host some of the best Cape Town-based brands - and this has been derived from the incredible interactions and relationships forged in the building. In the way that we are so energised about sharing Cape Town with the rest of the country, and abroad - so too are Tayla and her team about Joburg and South Africa at large, as well as their incredible array of designers,

“We hand-pick designers so that we can maintain a very curated experience, and ensure we can work with people who share our vision and have aligned values. The way we have found many of the labels that are with us has been through very organic means. We are always trying to keep an eye out for who is new and upcoming, too. It’s very much a conversation, and more so than anything - it's really about relationships. Key to what we are doing is exporting Joburg culture to other parts of the country and internationally.”

Joburg and Cape Town are thought of as two very different cities; and in many ways, they are - but in building the kind of future that we all want, there is nothing more powerful than for us to come together, in our curiosity and our passion for locality. This will be 99’s first time showing in Cape Town, with Tayla saying, “We do First Thursday every month in Joburg, but the city is a lot bigger and more fragmented than Cape Town - where First Thursday really is in a condensed, energised hub across a few streets in the Cape Town CBD. We are really excited to come to Cape Town, and to be in the same city as some of Cape Town based brands like Asa Sadan, SinCHUI, Broke and Afrogrunge. We are really hoping to tap into Cape Town’s community, and to bring down some of the work happening in Joburg. I think it's going to be a really interesting merging between us.”

Starting on 6th April, First Thursday, the pop-up will trade until Saturday the 8th.. Activating our two cities is an honour for us to do, and to do it alongside Tayla and 99 Design; this is going to be huge, and a marker of great things to come.. Lastly, Tayla offers insight into what to expect,

“We would love people to just come and experience the clothes. Some designers are launching some new products for the first time and that are only being released through us. We are really on a good trajectory as a country, and what we want people to know and realise is that this is our moment, and designers here are pushing the boundaries - from a cultural perspective, but also from a local and sustainable level. I think it's amazing to see that our local design is on par with an international level, but maintains the South African flair that only people here can pull off.”

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