The V&A Waterfront has a new ‘incubator store’ – and it is selling denim artware and leather pieces

Business Insider SA
Design Lab, Watershed, V&A Waterfront
Watershed, V&A Waterfront.

  • Design Lab collaborated with the V&A Waterfront, Business and Arts South Africa, and the Craft and Design Institute to give eight brands a year's retail industry experience.
  • The programme clusters the brands in an on-site store front among 365 other African brands in the Watershed, a market space at the V&A Waterfront. 
  • The incubator store sells proudly 'Made in Cape Town' products with some of the entrepreneurs coming from Langa. 
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The Design Lab is a new incubator store front at V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. It is here where eight creative brands, a part of Design Lab's retail development programme, will showcase their products and get first-hand experience of what it is like to run a day-to-day business.

The new retailer together with the Craft and Design Institute (CDI), V&A Waterfront, and Business and Arts South Africa are helping the eight brands establish themselves in the retail industry. This concept store sells proudly 'Made in Cape Town' products like homemade leather jewellery made by Nondwe Nyathi, bespoke linen and homeware by Jenine Allchin, one-of-a-kind denim pieces dubbed as wearable art by Anele Nono, art pieces moulded from plastic by Sizwe Shumane, and more. 

These creative brands promote products made in Cape Town.

Watershed, V&A Waterfront, Design Lab
Anele Nono designs authentic denim pieces under his label, Jeanius Platform. Named after Jean Michel Bascquiat. Nono's wearable art keeps important stories and pieces of history alive like his recent collection inspired by King Langalibalele.

They will join 156 other tenants of the open market space known as the Watershed which sells sought-after African brands, among others. All the traders at the space put together make up 365 brands selling an assortment of jewellery, ceramics, textiles, furniture, and more. "The Watershed is the ultimate teething ground for new creative businesses. It is a beautiful and vibrant space at South Africa's top tourism destination," says the Institute.

V&A Waterfront, Design Lab
Nondwe Nyathi is a self-taught designer and founder of her own jewellery brand. Nondwe born in the Eastern Cape now living in Cape Town makes pieces that resemble African aesthetics. She wears her 'Solid Circle Neckpiece' R 1 045.

Initiated in April 2021 the programme rotates the stores annually with the focal point being to provide businesses with training and mentorship. After one year the hope is that the current cohort of brands will be ready to open their own stand-alone stores making room for a new cohort to enter the programme.

This prime retail opportunity according to CDI incorporates tailormade training. The entrepreneurs are fully immersed with full-onsite training, merchandising, styling, sales technique, and etiquette, point of sale, banking, and stock taking.

"The Design Lab programme allows us to extend the opportunity for emerging retailers to test their product in a real-world environment. Through this, it builds a new range of talented entrepreneurs accessing market at the V&A Waterfront," states Alex Kabalin, retail executive manager at the V&A Waterfront.

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