September 2, 2011

Can you Buy GAP Clothes in South Africa?

photo courtesy of GAP
*** UPDATE ***

There is now a GAP in Sandton City, see details here:


If this title sounds more promising than what you will learn from this post, I apologize. I just wanted to share another shopping tip, having just gone through the process of trying to buy a pair of jeans for one of my kids.

I've previously written about Grocery Shopping in Johannesburg and have figured out a fairly good routine, but clothes shopping continues to be a thorn in my side since we've moved to South Africa. I am a rather atypical expat spouse (even though Noisette doesn't believe it) in that I do not actually enjoy shopping. Because of this I greatly value the convenience of shops that deliver expected quality and style, year in year out. Shops that I can rely on to always carry what I need, the few times that I need it. The GAP was that trusted address for me back home.

One thing actually working in my favor here is the fact that our children wear school uniforms, so the need to go clothes shopping is greatly reduced. As much as I might gripe about my trips to McCullagh & Bothwell, they are easy compared to the kind of searching one has to do to find good quality and affordable clothes in South Africa. The best of your options is probably Woolworth, where you'll be going anyway for your groceries, and the one in Fourways Mall has a nice section for home goods and clothing. However, I would say the quality is so-so, not great, and you also never know if they'll have what you need. It seems like South African stores buy their wares in batches (a friend joked that she thinks European suppliers have special "Africa" batches judging form the poor quality even of branded products), so that the sizes will be picked through without any new supplies coming in.

You can imagine my delight when in my despair I returned to the GAP website, just to see all the nice things I couldn't have, and discovered that they now offer "Secure International Checkout by FiftyOne." When you're signed in, you will see a little box at the upper right hand side saying "Shipping to:" and an American flag next to it. Well, click on that flag to get a list of countries to choose from, and South Africa is actually one of them!

What's more, your order will now be calculated in that country's currency (unless you don't want it, there is still an option to select the currency separately), and you can use an international credit card (only Visa or Mastercard). However - you knew there was a but, didn't you? - my excitement was short-lived, and I didn't end up trying this out so I might report back to you if it works. As you will see below, an order for a few shirts and boxer shorts coming to ZAR490 ended up costing ZAR1192 once the shipping and import duties are factored in. That's almost two and a half times as much as if I had shipped this somewhere in the U.S.!

I know it's not the GAP's fault. International shipping is expensive and South African import duties on clothing are high (as I've found out when trying to ship baseball pants - even used ones - to my Alexandra Baseball team).

So your best bet is to do what I do: Find someone travelling to South Africa and have them bring it here. This is one of the very useful aspects of Joburg Expat - I constantly get to know prospective expats trying to get their bearings about life in South Africa, and so I'm pretty much assured a constant stream of people not just coming here to South Africa, but having a huge container at their disposal to boot!


Jozie Days said...

Hi Sine, I think there is a small range available at Stuttafords - they have shops at Sandton, Cresta and other malls around SA.

I am not sure how the prices compare or if they have a good range. Perhaps it will require a shopping excursion!

cat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cat said...

You will be delighted to know that GAP is targeting South Africa via Stuttafords.I know the one in Eastgate has a GAP kids section.

I am busy with a redevelopment of a Pretoria shopping centre an there will be a 500sq.m GAP store. So reason to head over to Pretoria in future.

Sine said...

Wow, thanks guys, and yes, I will definitely have to make an excursion to Stuttafords. Having actual GAP clothes here is more than I expected, so it sounds great, even if the prices are a bit higher. And how exciting about the Pretoria store - can you tell us more where it will be and when it will open?

Anonymous said...

A full GAP store is opening in Sandton on Monday / Tuesday next week (19th March 2012) and then in Tygervalley Cape Town the next day.

Sine said...

Oh really? Where is the new GAP store in Sandton? That would be great news.

W. A. Jeffrey said...

As much as I love shopping, jean hunting has become my bete noir. I only wear levi's 501 button fly in the next to lightest stonewash and ever since they switched to foreign manufacture many years ago it is a nightmare to figure out which size I need as it changes not just from which country each pair were made in but in which production lot. Since it is a nightmare doing it in the USA even with free return shipping and other conveniences, I cringe just thinking about what it will be like in SA. Even here I have gotten to the point where I wear khakis/chinos as much as I can so as to make the twelve pair rotation of 501's I have right now last. I'll probably bring 30 pairs with me when I emigrate although maybe with the short winters I won't be wearing jeans much. That would be great as I have a much easier time with khaki's/chinos. I just make sure I get the waist right and if they are too long I have them altered. With the jeans I have to factor in the rise and how much weird stretching is going to occur which is a pain with jeans nowadays. It has something to do with the fact that they use acid rather than sand to fade the jeans nowadays.