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RBS: The Angolan Fast-Fashion Retailer You Likely Haven’t Heard Of


Zara’s speedy business model, often replicated, is rarely duplicated by rival retailers—at least, not successfully. That’s why the Inditex-owned chain remains firmly in place atop its pedestal.

But for RBS, the Angolan fast-fashion store founded by economist and entrepreneur Rui Silva which launched in 2011, Zara’s affordable on-trend threads were more than an example to follow; they were inventory.

“I started out selling Zara in Angola via RBS, but the fit of the clothes was a serious problem,” Silva told Forbes. “You have to understand that the African body type is different from the European body type, so I was getting a lot of feedback regarding that.”

That constructive criticism is what sparked his decision to turn RBS into its own fast-fashion brand, selling styles designed specifically for the African consumer.

Today, with seven stores across Angola, including in Luanda and Benguela, as well as locations through licensing deals with local partners in Ghana, Namibia, Mozambique and Mauritius, not to mention a team of 100 based in Angola and Portugal, RBS is on its way to becoming the Zara of Africa.

RBS sells an average of 20,000 pieces a month on its home turf, releasing a new collection every four weeks—slower than Zara’s twice-weekly deliveries—and revenues are up 30 percent so far this year.

“I listened carefully to what customers told me they were looking for in terms of color, fit and fabric and I started developing the brand with a team based in Portugal,” he continued, noting that he’s currently fielding interest from a company that wants to open an RBS store in the Congolese city of Kinshasa. “We have the right clothes for African people all over the continent… Right now I prioritize the South African market within Africa and we’ll open a store in Cape Town or Johannesburg next year.”

He plans to expand into Portugal, too, where the majority of the brand’s manufacturing is based, as well as Spain and Italy.

“At the moment we’re already present in Portugal through a multi-brand retail concept and at the most recent Vogue Fashion’s Night Out in Portugal we established a pop-up store and sold a lot,” Silva revealed, adding, “We’ll open our first store in Lisbon next year in one of the busiest parts of the city, near the Avenida da Liberdade. Right now we’re in the process of negotiating the exact store location.”