K-Way's Sewing School has been instrumental in job creation, allowing normal people off the street to learn a trade and become valued machinists in our factory. New recruits are exposed to an entire year of training and learn ‘from the ground up’.
Recruits learn where fabrics start, how to operate machines efficiently, and most importantly, how to perform each garment process in our factory.
The opportunity is also there for older machinists, who at retirement age, are still very healthy and would like to continue. Our workers are supported in their own goals and usually go on to bring their wealth of knowledge to other departments.
K-Way production manager, Beverley Williams says, “For me, the journey has been filled with exciting challenges to do new things. You come into the workplace in the morning and get excited to add value, not only for the customer but for the workers too. Transparency is key in the factory and as a result, workers feel very connected to the factory goals.”
"We embraced the LEAN philosophy and held regular 20-minute workshops, team-building, problem-solving so that people were fully aware of what they were trying to achieve."
Beverley has worked at K-Way for over 18 years and has seen the entire transformation of the business. The total number of workers doubled during that time and 311 people now work in the factory.
Our K-Way fabric goes through extensive testing before it ends up in your hands. In fact, it is tested twice before going into production to ensure the fabric performs as it is intended to. Our testing includes but is not limited to fabric weight, thread count, fabric strength, colour fast, water repellence, water resistance, ageing, down migration and breathability tests.
We also test what would happen to your favourite K-Way gear in certain performance tests should you fall or endure extreme temperatures. We do this because we want to ensure you that K-Way is the preferred choice of outdoor enthusiasts for a reason. With thorough testing, we push our apparel beyond the limit to ensure the topmost excellence in durability, strength and performance.
The K-Way factory is mindful of the stigma attached to retail manufacturing and in fact, functions with a strong philosophy of Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.
Through the implementation of solar panels on the K-Way factory roof, we have cut our electricity usage by up to 35% each year. We have also recently started working with UNEP, the United Nations Environmental Programme to assess our carbon footprint per garment and have received extremely promising results. We reduce waste by using second-hand boxes to deliver all repairs to the factory.
Since every fabric in our use is made of the highest quality, even the offcuts are used to make other K-Way items. These include stuff bags, gear bags in a range of sizes, and other fashion accessories. All unused offcuts are sent to charities and other businesses that can put them to good use. These include recycled fabric manufacturers, The Clothing Bank, local upholsters, and other small businesses.
As the material is cut, the cutting paper is immediately collected and sent to recycling factories. All unused Perspex material used for patterns is reformed into useful tools for our stores like containers for stuff bags and mini gear bags located at the till. It’s safe to say every bit of material used in the factory has a destination and no waste is accepted.
We are excited for our future, the K-Way future.
The K-Way factory has achieved many things since we opened our doors but we're not done yet. In fact, we're just getting started.
Nazreen Agherdien, the K-Way factory merchandiser and third-generation manufacturing professional says there is great potential for manufacturing to make a big difference in an individual’s life.
“The South African clothing industry has the knowledge, experience and capabilities to really make a difference in the unemployment rate. Perhaps the industry isn’t as wow [as others] but it really can change someone’s life…”