We first encountered Katlego Molaolwa at the Live Out Your Dreams sessions in Cape Town, where he told his story about the challenges that led to him becoming a powerful force in the fashion industry. At 28 years old, Katlego has worked for two giant companies that are leaders in their respective industries: advertising pioneer Ogilvy and the largest retailer in the southern hemisphere, Woolworths. We spoke to Katlego about his journey and about fashion.
Thank you for doing this interview. Tell us what makes you Threaded?
My style – comfortable, distinctive, but without being ostentatious.
At 28 years old you have worked for two major companies, Ogilvy and Woolworths, tell us about that journey?
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing but it’s been one hell of a ride that provided a lot experiences that I sponged knowledge from. I am grateful to have had an opportunity to have my name linked to these two industry heavyweights.
As part of the Woolworths fashion brand marketing team, what does your role entail?
I’m a brand manager across three portfolios, which are menswear, kidswear and homeware. As the brand custodian, I ensure the delivery and positioning of the Woolworths brand in a way that focuses on driving profitability and customer engagement.
What are some of the challenges you face as part of your job?
Red tape in a corporate environment. Sometimes you are not able to fully voice your creative ideas because of hierarchal structures.
In South Africa, the black African man is becoming more stylish and style conscious, what is Woolworths doing to connect with this market?
Not speaking for Woolworths, but any business or retailor needs to thoroughly research and understand their target market’s needs, and learn to add value to their products, services and brands. Doing so will not only attract and retain the right types of customers, but you’ll also differentiate yourself from your competitors. This can be achieved through good quality customer shopping experiences, by offering convenience, offering limited edition products and focusing more on customer engagement.
In the digital age there has been an increase in bloggers and influencers, how vital is it to Woolworths to work with them and why?
I am not in a position to speak for the business/Woolworths but personally I believe that millennials want high-quality content and they want to access it at any given time or place, for as low a cost as possible. The reality is that everything is going digital and more eyes are on creator-generated content and social media. If any business chooses to ignore this, it can rest assure that their competition won’t.
One of the most powerful aspects of influencer marketing, is its organic nature, which gains more trust than traditional marketing. Using influencers creates a sense of accessibility and relatability which equals trust, instead of using unattainable celebrities.
With that said, in order for the influencer marketing plan to work, the right platforms and right influencers have to be carefully selected and this must be people that embody the brand image.
Now onto some fun questions! What are five clothing items you can’t live without?
- Sneakers – a pair of spiffy kicks can be worn with anything from a full suit to jeans and a tee.
- Slim fit denim – get the perfect cut in dark blue – there’s literally nothing they won’t go well with.
- Crisp, white slim fit button down shirt – effortlessly stylish on pretty much everyone.
- Lace-up shoes – every man should invest in a pair of brown lace-ups, the most useful type of footwear out there and they go with everything.
- Suits – must be well cut for your body shape (I know that not everyone can afford a personal tailor).
Which fashion item should guys not wear this season?
Square toed shoes – not just this season but ever!
Who is your style icon and why?
Nick Wooster – he’s always challenging style stereotypes without sacrificing masculine taste. Wooster is not merely a fashion icon, he’s a style aficionado.
What items should every guy buy this winter?
- Emerald green suits, accessories and statement jackets
- A tartan blazer
- Shawl neck cardigan – the ultimate staple piece for classic winter dressing
- Crew neck sweats – perfect in-between layer for when it’s not cold enough for a jacket but not warm enough for one layer
- Felt fedora – an everyday favourite amongst the autumn/winter seasonal
What is the most expensive item of clothing you own?
What advice do you have for other Threaded gents who want to follow in your footsteps?
Note that once you have a reputation, then you are a brand. Protect and nurture it always. Your brand impression and expression is vital to your personal brand. How you dress, talk and act elevates you. Don’t sleep on yourself.