SNAZZY DRESSER: Tshepo Modiba. © Unknown.
SNAZZY DRESSER: Tshepo Modiba. © Unknown.

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

You could easily mistake Tshepo Modiba for one of the models who grace the covers of top men's magazines every month.

His perfect skin, ramp-model looks, confidence and snazzy dress sense would make him a perfect candidate for a GQ spread on this autumn's trends.

Though he loves fashion the 26-year-old Modiba would rather stick to the buying side of the business.

"I have a deep love of fashion and it's a lifestyle. With the right fashion look and attitude you can create a good first impression," he says.

Modiba is a buyer and brand manager for the range of Lacoste footwear in South Africa for men, ladies and children.

"I ensure that what we buy is in line with our market and current international trends," he explains.

"I also distribute, manage stock across all the stores and oversee the sales of the product."

To enable him to know what appeals to Lacoste's target market, Modiba does a lot of research by talking to customers, knowing his competitors and travelling abroad.

He says: "I'm a media junkie. I spend lots of time on the Internet, watching TV and reading fashion magazines.

"There's a wealth of information out there on fashion trends."

To get a job in this field, a diploma or a degree in a fashion-related course is highly recommended.

Modiba has seven years of buying experience gained through working for several major fashion retailers and a diploma in fashion design.

He says: "This industry requires someone with a passion for fashion, good taste, the ability to adapt quickly and an eye for detail."

His job involves a lot of travelling internationally, at least every three months, and within South Africa to visit stores and know the markets.

He says normal working hours are from 8am to 5pm but sometimes one has to work after hours or over the weekend especially when travelling abroad.

Modiba's day involves tracking and reacting to daily sales. This enables him to understand what sells and what does not, and the reasons why this is happening.

The job sounds glamorous, but he admits that it can be challenging and stressful. It requires one to travel a lot which can be very demanding.

There's a large demand for international brands in South Africa and Modiba says the salary depends on the individual's ability to drive sales and profitability.

He says: "Think of buying as running your own business and the more profit you make, the more you can afford to earn a higher salary.

"To keep abreast of the changes in the industry, absorb every bit of information accessible. Be it fashion, music, sports, economics, politics, sports or plain old gossip in the tabloids, because it's all relative to how we spend money."