SIMON AND MARY: A heritage brand for a new generation


JUNE, 2021

By Charlotte Mostert 

Learn more about one of Greenpop’s oldest partners, Simon and Mary, and their commitment to sustainability and innovation.

Born from a family of milliners – family is the backbone of the company.

In an interview done with Between 10 and 5, Dean Pozniak spoke more about the history of Simon and Mary. 

In 1935, Mordechai Pozniak moved his cap factory from Poland to Johannesburg, South Africa. This is where his son, Simon, established the business into one of Africa’s most renowned wool felt hat manufacturing plants. Simon’s wife, Leah who was nicknamed Mary, had become an essential part of the business, attending to all the non-manufacturing needs.

In 1973, Julian, Simon’s youngest son, entered the family business, and soon to follow in 1988 Robert, the eldest son, joined the family business. Now in 2008 Dean Pozniak, Simon’s grandson is a fourth-generation milliner as the head of the brand and factory in the legacy business.

There has been a multitude of different collections in the Simon and Mary line, Dean uncovered to Nontando Mposo that many of the hats are named after the family, employees, and common Polish names. 

“The creation of generational products goes hand in hand with sustainability”

In 2014, Simon and Mary signed up as a Greenpop pledge partner. Their commitment to our work, and partnership has led to the planting of over 708 trees in our urban greening and forest restoration projects in Southern Africa.

But their commitment to the environment does not end there. At Simon and Mary they believe the creation of generational products goes hand in hand with sustainability – creating products that are meant to last a lifetime. In addition, they have implemented many initiatives to ensure the sustainability of their manufacturing process, such as the use of rainwater in their boiler which saves 30,000 litres of water per month. 

Want to see exactly how their hats are made? Watch this video.

“A brand for the modern generation”

Simon & Mary is also known for their innovative and fashion-forward designs. With the headquarters in Johannesburg, the vibrant local culture left its mark on the brand.

The first Simon and Mary collection was worn by many local African creatives and entrepreneurs, such as Ricky Rick. This cemented Simon and Mary as a brand for the modern generation.

“The material works beautifully with the styles we’ve gone for – the colours and shape of the product.”

This culture of innovation and sustainability has inspired Simon and Mary to experiment with alternative materials for their products.

In an interview with Twyg, Simon and Mary revealed the reason why the biodegradable cactus leather was integrated into the company’s sustainable line of materials. Cactus leather requires less water to farm and manufacture than animal leather does, and when in the correct conditions the plant is able to grow in abundance.

A youtube video by Adriano Di Marti explained the Cactus Vegan Leather process in the context of their brand, Desserto, that Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez started together in Mexico. It shows that Cactus leather is not only lighter on water consumption in comparison to animal leather, but it can be created without the use of non-toxic chemicals, this process allows the cactus leather to be biodegradable but still have a strong lifespan of 10 years, whereas synthetic fibres can take up to 200 years to decompose reported by Sustain your Style. Simon and Mary adopting cactus leather are helping with the reduction of 100,000,000 tons of waste the fashion industry creates. 

An interview conducted by Reveriepage spoke more in-depth with Simon and Mary on the adoption of this up-and-coming material. Nopal, the type of cactus which is named after its pads is made without toxic chemicals, phthalates, or PVC. This creates a durable, sustainable, and partially biodegradable material for the new line to be made from. 

Local sustainable businesses are the ways of the future in fashion. By benefiting the environment by using less to no toxic chemicals and biodegradable materials, the contribution to landfill waste is being reduced as well as air and water pollution from the water used to produce the products. By investing in locally made fashion pieces one is helping the surrounding community to be relieved from poverty and decrease the unemployment rate. In an interview with ISYOURS Dean said, “It’s important for brands in the clothing industry to be cognizant of what we are doing, and balance it out the best we can.” Naturally, Simon and Mary is a perfect example of a fashion brand that tries to benefit the planet and the people, while still looking charming. Greenpop is honoured to be in a partnership with Simon and Mary. Their diligent and innovative work towards creating a more sustainable future in the fashion industry is inspirational and 

Interested in supporting this TREEmendous local brand?

Visit their website for more information.

All photography and styling credits are awarded to Koos Groenewald @janaandkoos

Greenpop Foundation NPC is a registered non-profit organisation. Registration Number (NPO): 151-411 NPO.