Flo­rals for Spring

SLOW Magazine - - Must Go -

The Ruff Tung name might not im­me­di­ately ring a bell, but if it does, it would mean that you’re a woman in the fash­ion know. Not just be­cause the brand has been around for 20odd years, but be­cause you would know just how amaz­ing its clothes are: bold, bright, and, most im­por­tantly, fem­i­nine and free.

The Ruff Tung la­bel was founded in 1999 by Jean-paul Botha, who started by de­sign­ing edgy gar­ments that would best be de­scribed as “club wear”. The gar­ments were a hit, and Botha soon built up a loyal brand fol­low­ing. With time, as his au­di­ence ma­tured, so did Botha’s de­signs – al­though those in the know con­tin­ued to or­der the funkier club wear di­rectly from him. From all ac­counts, the de­signer was a pas­sion­ate, in­flu­en­tial man that touched the life of ev­ery­one he came into con­tact with, which is why his pass­ing in Novem­ber 2013 came as a great loss.

But true vi­sion never dies, and it wasn’t long be­fore Brid­get Pick­er­ing and Lud­wig Bausch stepped in, shar­ing the same pas­sion that Botha had, to keep the Ruff Tung flame burn­ing bright. Bausch had worked with Botha for seven years, while Pick­er­ing was not only a good friend, but also one of Botha’s mentees al­most 20 years ago.

When Botha passed away, he had just fin­ished his Dur­ban Fash­ion Fair col­lec­tion. “We were all there to see it. It was huge and it was his most retail-ready col­lec­tion,” Pick­er­ing says. “When he passed away shortly af­ter, we de­cided to carry on the brand. I don’t think we re­ally thought about it too much – we loved Jean-paul and we were pas­sion­ate about him. We con­sider our­selves a trib­ute brand to Jean-paul’s cre­ative vi­sion, and it’s thanks to him that Lud­wig and I have had this amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity to work to­gether and take an es­tab­lished brand to the next level.”

How­ever, it’s not just been a case of busi­ness as usual. “Our big­gest chal­lenge was tran­si­tion­ing a busi­ness from Dur­ban to Cape Town, and sourc­ing all el­e­ments from pro­duc­tion to set up,” Pick­er­ing ex­plains. “Tak­ing a niche oc­ca­sion-wear brand and evolv­ing it into a com­mer­cial, main­stream brand is no mean feat, and the daily pro­duc­tion and retail grind means you have to have a thick skin. There is al­ways an el­e­ment of the ‘wow fac­tor’ when you tell peo­ple what you do, but the re­al­ity of grow­ing a brand is as far from glam­orous as you can get.

“On the flip­side,” she adds, “we be­lieve that it takes a team to build a brand, and at our core beats a col­lab­o­ra­tive heart. Jean­paul opened so many fash­ion doors, and we have con­nected with a wide range of in­cred­i­ble peo­ple who have given us noth­ing but op­por­tu­ni­ties, en­cour­age­ment, and di­rec­tion, which is a true tes­ta­ment to Jean­paul’s legacy.”

While both Pick­er­ing and Bausch have a well-de­vel­oped sense of style and de­sign, the Ruff Tung aes­thetic re­tains some of Botha’s touch in its gar­ments, of­ten mak­ing use of bold prints and colour block­ing. For the re­main­der of the de­signs, it fuses a joy­ful play­ful­ness and bold fem­i­nin­ity into flow­ing sil­hou­ettes, while keep­ing com­mer­cial con­sid­er­a­tions and trends in mind.

“Ca­sual so­phis­ti­ca­tion is al­ways the fo­cus of our de­signs, as we draw in­spi­ra­tion and en­ergy from the women we dress,” ex­plains Bausch. “Our de­sign ethos is to cel­e­brate and re­flect au­then­tic women and, be­cause of this, Ruff Tung has nat­u­rally evolved to be more size-in­clu­sive. Our col­lec­tions are de­signed to flat­ter curves and to find the right bal­ance be­tween com­fort and style, while re­main­ing true to our brand her­itage through the cel­e­bra­tion of bold state­ment colours and prints.”

Pick­er­ing adds, “So of­ten we hear women say­ing that they are work­ing to­wards their ‘ul­ti­mate goal weight’, but our brand mantra has al­ways been: ‘Live your best life now.’ A pos­i­tive self-im­age is all about con­fi­dence, and we’ve come to un­der­stand how to cre­ate pieces that re­ally work for women with curves. Our aim is for all women to ex­pe­ri­ence fash­ion in the same way, with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the ul­ti­mate stylish look. As de­sign­ers, we’re in­spired by th­ese con­fi­dent, con­tem­po­rary women who live full and com­plex lives. Our size-in­clu­sive col­lec­tion aims to em­power them to do just that.”

Ruff Tung launched its Spring/sum­mer 2017 in­clu­sive col­lec­tion at Fash­ion Week ear­lier this year, jok­ingly ref­er­enc­ing Mi­randa Pri­est­ley (The Devil Wears Prada): “Flo­rals? For spring? Ground-break­ing.” Yet this col­lec­tion is ex­actly that, as Bausch ex­plains: “Our aim is to en­er­gise your new sea­son’s fash­ion fix with bold blooms and eye-pop­ping bou­quets of iconic state­ment prints, mixed up with our sig­na­ture sil­hou­ettes – all things ki­mono, twist de­tail­ing, and tulip shapes. Em­brace the joy and ro­mance of the sea­son.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, fol­low Ruff Tung on Face­book.

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