Visi

Up-and-coming fashion brand Artclub and Friends talks sustainabi­lity and style

Cape Town clothing and accessorie­s brand Artclub and Friends combines a cool, stripped-back aesthetic with a touch of street cred – and a call for conscious fashion to become everyone’s friend.

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Artclub and Friends is synonymous with making ethical fashion look effortless­ly cool. So what’s in a name?

VISI asked creative director and founder Robyn Keyser about how her love of fashion manifested itself as a brand that’s youthful yet timeless and accessible.

How did the name Artclub and Friends come about?

The name Artclub and Friends has become more and more suited to us as we grow – it’s a constant reminder of why we exist. The truth is, I wasn’t one of those fashion kids growing up with my nose buried in fashion magazines. I’ve always found home and peace surrounded by the dreamers, the innovators and oftentimes, the artists, who do what they do because it’s their life force. My inspiratio­n has always had surprising­ly little to do with “fashion”; it just happens to be the medium I chose.

Artclub and Friends is the goalpost in our lives. It’s the reminder that the dream is to produce meaningful, fulfilling work by consciousl­y creating pieces that uplift, support and inspire people – whether that be the seamstress­es, pattern makers, milliners and fabric mills, or photograph­ers, musicians, writers and fine artists.

What are your thoughts on South Africa’s current sustainabl­e fashion market?

Unfortunat­ely, many start-up brands still get caught up in “greenwashi­ng” what they do – but we’re all learning that it’s shortsight­ed to make these kinds of claims when we’re just not there yet. However, I think it’s important to add that most small South African brands are pretty sustainabl­e in that they do not produce high volumes, they source their materials from local mills, and they help support many freelance seamstress­es and pattern makers nationwide. This, for me, is often overlooked; I hope we all learn to focus on and celebrate this kind of creating way more.

Your clothes are timeless. What goes into creating an item from concept to final approval?

The process of approving a new piece is getting longer because we’re focusing less on what gets an item sold and more on what gets a piece to live a long, happy life in someone’s wardrobe. Learning that so many of our customers are still wearing pieces we created in 2016 makes me feel that we’re on the right path. The trick to creating timeless pieces is asking yourself if you’d have worn this item five years ago, and whether you’d still feel good wearing it in five years’ time. That’s the goal. That’s the dream. artcluband­friends.com

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