As a way of introduction Paul Simon does the elbow bump and dives straight in: “I wake up at 3am and I’m not sure if what I’m doing is genius or madness.” What he is doing is smiling from ear to ear, so whether it’s brilliant or balmy he’s definitely having fun.
Simon, a serial entrepreneur has partnered with fellow master retailer Arie Fabian to open a revolutionary shopping concept. Entitled We Are Egg the idea is a collaborative space that evolved from Simon’s original YDE concept.
“In some ways it’s like YDE times fifty,” says Fabian. “Yes,” agrees Simon, “But I’ve taken all those learnings and reimagined them into an offering that is equally vital for today’s corporate landlords as it is for the country’s smaller creative retailers.”
The concept, named for incubation, creativity and collaboration, is a 50/50 partnership that looks in some ways like an SA version of Selfridges. In other ways there are elements of all the best markets or international multi-brand stores out there.
“For these smaller retailers entering big malls is incredibly daunting,” Simon says. “They are fed with a book of a contract, have a liturgy of rules to follow and once they’ve actually managed to sign the lease, they need at least a few million to shop fit, so they look the same as everyone else. What we’re doing is very different. What we’re offering is created around inclusivity and originality.”
The Cavendish store in Cape Town is an experiential journey and is the first of three to roll out — Durban’s Gateway and The Zone in Rosebank will open next year. The entire initiative is made possible through a 50-split partnership with Old Mutual Properties, and ensures there is an authentic level of support from the landlords, and it must be said, a substantial investment and commitment to ensure support and success.
The flagship store is curated to present the best there is in Cape Town — including cult hair salon Mop, a Black Betty piercing studio, a flower and plant market by Fleur Le Cordeur and for foodies Luke Dale Roberts is doing a Pot Luck Club alongside Scheckter’s Raw and Cheyne’s Contemporary Asian.
Front and centre on entering the store, is a limited-edition sneaker, athleisure and a personalisation section (everything from hats to shoes can be drawn, studded, stamped) — and there is, of course, a home, and beauty department too.
We Are Egg is also the first retailer in SA to be stocking Off White, the ridiculously covetable brand by Virgil Abloh.
“This is not only an omnichannel retail offering with online and an in-store app,” says Simon. “It’s ultimately a wonderfully curated destination offering something for everyone — from young to old, there’s the opportunity to experience, learn, grown and of course, shop.”
• We Are Egg is now open at Cavendish Connect, Dreyer St, Claremont, Cape Town, 7708.