Retail fashion or protective wear

Sweet-Orr, the well-known South African manufacturer of protective clothing, now has a showroom in Johannesburg! CHARLEEN CLARKE attended the official opening.

When one thinks “protective clothing”, the words “practical” and “safe” come to mind. Not “cool”, “fashionable” or “trendy”.

But Sweet-Orr is different! SHEQ MANAGEMENT first encountered the company, its owners and products at the Bauma exhibition last year – and we were both surprised and delighted at the range of clothing. We would happily wear many of their garments to a braai over the weekend (especially the denim range)!

Now the company has decided to open its very first showroom. And, much like its clothing range, the showroom isn’t dull, drab or boring. In fact, it looks like a retail fashion outlet.

The new showroom is located at the Terminal Lifestyle Centre in Boksburg, and it stocks Sweet-Orr’s specialised range as well as its essential and utility workwear.

“At Sweet-Orr we are passionate about ensuring individual tradesmen and artisans have access to the necessary garments and advice from expert staff. We believe that everyone deserves to be able to do their best work without putting themselves at risk unnecessarily,” John Jacobs, MD of Sweet-Orr South Africa, tells SHEQ MANAGEMENT.

The 150-m2 showroom has a fresh, modern appeal that combines Sweet-Orr’s African and American heritage, and is centrally located, providing easy access for both the private and industrial sector. “We’ve worked hard to create an environment, and experience, that is premium and professional, but also warm and welcoming,” says Denver Berman-Jacob, executive director, Sweet-Orr South Africa.

While browsing the showroom, customers will receive assistance from staff who have in-depth knowledge of the Sweet-Orr range and various fabrications and treatments. This will ensure that every customer is properly equipped with the right type of protective workwear according to their requirements.

Sweet-Orr is a company with a long and proud history. It was founded in Wappingers Falls, New York – way back in 1871. The company entered the South African market in 1931 and today it’s owned by the Jacobs family. This, in itself, is an incredible tale.

At the showroom opening, Jacobs revealed (with tears in his eyes) that he had joined the company many years ago as an admin clerk. “I wanted to be an attorney, however this was not possible. My father worked for the railways and my mother was a domestic worker, so they could never have afforded the university tuition. Times were tough back then. To say that opportunities were limited for a non-white person is a massive understatement,” he said.

He didn’t let this situation stand in his way, and today Sweet-Orr manufactures a diverse selection of high-quality and innovative workwear (everything from utility and casual clothing and denim to essential and highly specialised protective wear).

The company supplies numerous blue-chip clients – including BP, PPC Cement, SAB and Samancor – both here in South Africa and overseas.

The showroom is open from 8:00 to 16:00 on weekdays and from 8:30 to 12:30 on Saturdays.

Published by

Charleen Clarke

My friends call me a glomad (a global nomad lest you don’t get it). That’s a particularly apt word, because I am always trawling all corners of the globe, looking for stories. As a result, I have slept in some seriously strange places – on a bed of ice in the Arctic circle, on the floor in a traditional Japanese hotel, on the sand dunes in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan … and even on the floor of a Thai cargo ship. Mostly however I tend to sleep on aircraft (if I had a dog, he would bark at me when I eventually come home). I am passionate about trucks, cars, travel, food, wine, people and hugs – so I write about all these things. Except the hugs.
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