Here's where the name 'K-Way' comes from
- K-Way is one of South Africa's most ubiquitous brands. Every month, Cape Union Mart's local factory produces 40,000 garments under that name.
- The brand is named after the Cape Union Mart founder - the late Philip Krawitz, known as "Mr K".
- For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.
K-Way has become the ubiquitous brand of the South African winter, and the easiest way to recognise compatriots in foreign countries. The triangular logo seems to be everywhere.
The clothing brand, which is part of Cape Union Mart, was founded in 1981. Products are manufactured in the Cape Town suburb of Ottery, where more than 200 staff produce 40,000 garments a month.
It is much beloved by its fans…
A little known fact is that 27% of South Africa’s GDP is the production and sale of K-Way puffer jackets— Hamish Houston (@HamishHouston) June 10, 2019
All my Eid dresses are thin material. When is someone going to make us Eid tracksuits? Where is the K-Way Modesty range?— your favourite ancestor (@BooksBakesBio) June 4, 2019
But as a favourite of the suburban classes, K-Way is also often the subject of ribbing on social media:
Buying whole chicken at woolies and this guy asks if I want the organic chicken. I seker look rich in my K-way— Cape Flats Princess (@JustVee1710) October 1, 2018
Cape Town airport should just be renamed “K-Way Jacket International Airport”— Graham Charters (@Graham7Charters) July 26, 2018
I heard that if you stand in front of a mirror, wearing a k-way jacket, and say “but surely” 3 times you get generational wealth deposited into your account. Is this true?— Bran the broke (@Mueen11_) November 29, 2018
On a scale of 1 to K-Way jacket, how Cape Town are you?— Donovan Goliath (@DonovanGoliath) June 1, 2019
While there is also a popular 50-year old French outdoor clothing brand named K-Way, the local brand name has no relation to the European one.
Instead K-Way comes from “Mister Krawitz’s way” – and refers to the late Philip Krawitz, who founded Cape Union Mart in 1933.
Originally an “army and navy store”, the first outlet in Cape Town supplied visiting troops, whaling ships, and fishermen with all kinds of merchandise during the Second World War.
According to a Cape Union Mart spokesperson, customers started referring to Krawitz as “Mr K”. Known for his product knowledge, commitment to go the extra mile and focus on a great retail experience, “to this day, we do things the K-Way”, the spokesperson says.
Arthur Krawitz took over the business from his father in the late 1940s, and the company started to focus on non-seasonal clothing: in summer, Cape Union Mart sold winter clothing to South Africans heading overseas, and vice versa. It became the first importer of Levi jeans into South Africa.
The current chairman Philip Krawitz, the grandson of the founder, joined the company in 1970.
Read: We put a R3,000 K-Way jacket to the test in a blast freezer that hit -30 Celsius – here’s how it fared
In 2015, Philip Krawitz made headlines after receiving the global Yakir award from Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, the official fundraising organisation for Israel.
Krawitz told the South African Jewish Report that he believed the award was because he spearheaded the local fundraising efforts for Operation Protective Edge, Israel's 2014 military operation in Gaza.
In 2011, Andre Labuschagne was appointed as CEO of Cape Union Mart and the company has since grown to 140 stores, including the Poetry and Old Khaki brands.
The group has more than 2,000 employees in South Africa, and is the largest unlisted clothing retailer in the country.
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