There have been a handful of South African brands & designers repetitively celebrated in local and international press – seemingly playing into the narrative of media(print particularly), being a clique-based sort of community, wherein one needs to know someone to garner even a smidgen of appreciation.
Justifiably, South Africa’s hyped designers produce some stunning creations atleast once every two season; And while we seasonally echo the same awed sentiments, though designs start to eventually merge into a blur of sameness, there are a fair few SA brands whom yield remarkable works time and time again – not always as loud as what is often expected of the prominent, but ofttimes quietly breathtaking.
As someone wanting to contribute authentic content and opinions to the highly competitive arena of blogging, I feel honored and obligated to make a little ruckus about these Top 5 incredible South African designers, whom I think – even if they garner their own press – deserve more love, and should be on any fashion-lovers radar in 2019.
Sophisticated | Structured | Inspired
The brilliant minds behind ERRE, have their lifeblood drawn from powerful woman…and it shows!
“ERRE (pronounced “air) proposes a new type of power-dressing that celebrates the confident side of being feminine rather than mimicking its Eighties version…”
When I first found ERRE designs, I was browsing a boutique store in Cape Town’s hipster district, known to house wonderful contemporary artisanal South African designs.
Being a statuesque 5ft 11″ woman with curves, I am drawn to lengthy material, meticulous tailoring in ethereal silhouettes, and designs with flow.
Hanging from one of the clothing rails discretely lined up in the boutique’s studio space, were enigmatic cascading gushes of black.
I met ERRE designs on a warm day, and they ignited a burning need to further educate myself on exceptional SA designers like Natasha & Carina , positively contributing to a more contemporary image of African style.
Their journey has taken them all over the world, winning awards, redefining a style-savvy career woman’s wardrobe, and adorning European royalty…and ERRE has even joined me on 2 of 4 major international fashion weeks, in New York & Paris.
Tel: (+27)11 268 0989
Shop the website: www.erre-fashion.com
Taste | Adornment | Empowerment
There are many fashion lovers claiming to be in possession of a style bone, but have wardrobes lacking Afrigarde – a Proudly South African boutique brand gifting the world with striking new ways to accessorize (themselves, and the spaces that reveal their true taste).
Maria Uys has recently been faced with copycats attempting to imitate the high-end Felt jewelry line she diligently conceptualized & mastered while studying.
Some may view imitation as the highest, most sincerest form of flattery, but emulation (often prevalent when a designers trademark piece garners popularity and monetary success) often takes income from small businesses getting by, as well as bastardizing the unique design aesthetic trademarked by one creative individual.
As the singular Afrigarde Felt brand pushes on through a market saturated with echoes of recurring global fashion trends, it grows humbly; empowering poverty-stricken women through business & computer skills training, so as to supplement their income.
Maria may face reproductions being in the market, but an Afrigarde original is unmistakable – particularly due to the new gold authenticity tags woven into the wearable art.
The draw could be in Maria’s research into Ndebele Surface Design and body adornment. It may be the foreign aspect of the Felt medium in Afrigarde‘s jewelry, which did infact charm the fashion, print, & interior design industry.
However, I am of the belief that it was everything + Maria’s straight up thrilling designs (which settle somewhere in the grey of a softer ‘Futuristic Africa’) which deserve your money!
Shop the website: www.afrigarde.co.za
Bold | Chic | Confident
Founded in 1999 by one Jean-Paul Botha (with a far edgier vision than what we recognize of today’s brand) , Ruff Tung has been ushered into a bolder, more renowned, design statosphere under the collaborative designs of Ludwig Bausch & Bridget Pickering.
Ruff Tung understands that fashion is people; and leaving any body out, creates a deficiency in this amazing creative space.
We shouldn’t be praising the size factor of designers who work with amazing individuals and produce stunning garments – that’s the job, regardless of shape & size.
…but this highlighting of inclusive designers whom create – beyond the scope of sample sizes – has been necessary for initiating changes (and perception management) in fashion’s continuing pervasive sizing culture.
Decorum be damned, if you are ever lucky enough to attend one of Ruff Tung‘s body positive Runway Shows, because they have an army of regular & high-profile fans cheering excitedly, from the very first glimpse of stunning print making its way down the catwalk.
Stocked in up to 10 boutiques, Ruff Tung is also available to lovers of fashion across the world, thanks to online retailers like Zando & Superbalist.
Tel: (+27)82 872 0263
Coast & Koi
Haute | African | Luxury
More often than not, the bulk of people’s styling time, is often taken up by everything above the ankle – few giving a damn about what adorns their feet.
Caryn Wilensky is a South African designer focused solely on perfecting our soles styling.
Coast & Koi is a brand specializing in one-of-a-kind luxury shoes, clothing and accessories – with a very keen eye on inventively interpreting historic & contemporary fashion trends from around the world.
I have known the brand for about 4 years, and can disavow you of the notion right now, that I am using the term “one of a kind” lightly.
Coast & Koi shoes are handcrafted by South African woman secreted away in a fantastical show & work room; Therein, Caryn also designs: with animal prints, intricate beadwork, vegan materials, and chic design in mind.
Her commitment to a healthy & balanced lifestyle, quality materials, and being intuitive to setting new trends, results in Coast & Koi successes, like: having collaborated with famed Lebanese designer Reem Acra, for their A/W17 Collection, playing a pivotal role in a special Bettina Rheims photoshoot for IDEAT Magazine, and having a feature in Vogue.
Tel: (+27)021 434 7597
Email: email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beautiful | Artful |Elegant
I have a really deep and abiding affinity for pretty and ‘real’ things. I like authenticity insofar as it can be refined for me.
I guess my leanings towards the bespoke Soul Design pieces, comes as no surprise then.
Soul Design is the brainchild of Abi James, a seasoned jeweler with years of experience, in working with accessory brands throughout Africa. Her travels and work manifest overtly, in the traditional African symbolism shaping each hand-cut charm & chain.
The fact that any customer can order a piece singularly designed from their imagination and using Soul Design‘s base charms, makes the whole jewelry-buying experience with Abi, more than just shopping.
I am, myself, a Bohemian girl at heart, so I find kinship with Abi’s deep inspiration and abiding love of color and texture – which she plays around with, with such ease.
Abi’s creations are available around Cape Town and parts of Africa, like: Purr, Nicci Boutiques, Spice Route (Paarl, South Africa), Tanda Tula Safari Camp (Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa), Asilia Safari Camps (East Africa), Kaya Mawa Lodge (Malawi), and Jackal & Hide (Zambia).
Tel: (+27)076 527 8717
Shop the Website: www.souldesign.co.za