Habits recently exhibited at Pure London

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Habits recently exhibited at Pure London, the UK’s favourite fashion-buying event, where they showcased their locally produced Travel Collection. Jenny chats to us about the journey and her Pure London showcase.

Habits has been around for a while, surviving these days of fast fashion and cheap imports, what has contributed to your longevity? From small beginnings when I started with only one person working with me, I have increased my staff complement to numerous sales assistants, PAs, managing directors and an online team.

The first lesson that gets drummed into their heads is service, service, service. Before Habits I had been appalled by bad customer relations, so my top priority has always been that personal service is paramount. I feel this is a dying art in store but also online.

 

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My biggest asset is my team who provide the personal service that sets us apart. This extends to having a huge comfy sofa for bored husbands, with plenty of chilled De Grendel wine and the latest magazines on hand.

Many of my staff have been with me for a long time which allows them to build relationships and trust with our clients.

Tell us a little about the collection you showcased at Pure London? It was a difficult collection to do since I was sitting in the sweltering 33º heat of Cape Town while I was designing the AW18 range for a European winter.

We have shown at Pure London once before, when we went as part of the South African delegation with the KZN Fashion Council, exhibiting our best-selling Travel Range. Made from non-crease jersey Lycra, it rolls up in a ball, is non-crease and makes packing so simple – I knew it was a good seller, summer or winter.

Fortunately, I suddenly had a really good feel for velvet, and not just my favourite colours of black, grey and navy, but beautiful jewel tones – we all need a bit of cheering up.

I know about harsh European winters, and for a huge fan of layering, these washable velvet pieces are as perfect for African winters as they are for the English ones.

I’ve included a sort of Diane Keaton/ Annie Hall masculine three-piece suit complete with waistcoat – it’s a masculine look but hasn’t steered me away from the long, full-flowing opera coat, which is not just an easy piece to wear but it suits everybody.

This year we took a huge leap of faith and booked a stand at Pure London on our own – the only South African women’s wear label exhibiting. I have a factory of 25 people to keep in jobs in a challenging economic climate, and to be honest, it’s difficult to keep going. The only way I could see that I could keep a full-blown factory running was to dive in at the deep end, take a chance and put my money where my mouth was.

It’s frightening, but I have learnt you have to take risks in order to grow in a sustainable way.

It takes a lot of hard work but we have huge faith in our team, who exceeded our expectations, and we’re really proud of our results.

Our customer base has grown and we’ve committed to exhibiting at the next Pure London show in July. We’re proud to be flying the flag for South Africa at the show with our “proudly made in Cape Town” range, and visitors loved our stand, complete with a beaded rhino all the way from Cape Town. Local is lekker!

 

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Do you have a specific research process when you start a new collection? Absolutely not! I normally leave it late and have to panic through the last few weeks of delivering a collection, but I think I work best under pressure.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned since you started Habits? The biggest lesson is not to stand still. I went from a one-man band in 1986 to the next step of buying a building in Claremont, to expanding my team, to having my first Joburg Trunk Show 22 years ago, to opening a factory, to launching South Africa’s first online fashion store in 2002. The brand has to keep reinventing itself.

What advice would you give to young designers? Attach yourself to a known designer and learn as much as you can.

Be prepared to put in the hours and get paid very little. If you start your own business, be prepared that you will not make money in the first two years.

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How important is Fashion Week for you? Showing off is part of the business and I can’t stress how important it is showing at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT). It’s expensive, but when you think about the organisers African Fashion International put in, it’s a drop in the ocean. In fact, when I started out, I used to share shows with other designers to save money.

To demonstrate how important it is, in the weeks following MBFWCT, our figures go up and it’s not just our regular customers, but a lot of new clients. Fashion Week is a platform not just to show what sells, but to give you the opportunity to really extend what you do in real life, go a bit over the top and have some fun.

Without giving too much away, our theme for this year’s Fashion Week this month is “It’s complicated”, but that’s all I’m saying.

How would you describe the Habits woman? We aspire to having customers from aged 18 to 80. Our clients are busy women on the move, especially our online customers, who trust the brand. We have women who may be insecure with clothes and they appreciate that we don’t just sell frocks – our staff are trained to give honest advice on anything from packing and colours to wardrobe management and styles.

* The Habits Fashion Boutique is in Cavendish Close, Claremont.

Visit Habits at: http://www.habits.co.za/

Twitter: @HabitsFashion

Facebook: HabitsFashion

Instagram: habitsfashion_sa

* The Mercedes Benz Fashion Week will take place from March 23-25 in Camps Bay. Visit: http://africanfashioninternational.com/

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus and The Star on March 10 2017. For more of my work visithttp://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style/fashion

Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter: @Nontando58

Budding models get insight into fashion industry

Keegan Basil and Azola Bam wearing Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen. Picture by Tracey Adams.

Keegan Basil and Azola Bam wearing Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen. Picture by Tracey Adams.

The life of a fashion model is often associated with the glitz and glamour of the industry, from dressing in designer wear to being beautified by makeup artists and hairstylist. However, not many outside the industry are aware of the hard work that takes place behind the scenes when organising a photo shoot or producing a runway show. Two budding Cape Town models were given the opportunity to experience the dynamics of the industry for a day. Keegan Basil, 23, and Azola Bam, 20, were treated to a model makeover after beating many hopefuls in a competition run by the Cape Argus, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT) and M.A.C. Cosmetics.

The three-day fashion week starts today at the V&A Waterfront’s Watershed and North Wharf. It is attended by the who’s who of the industry, including designers, buyers, media and fashion photographers.

The two winners will attend one of the shows as part of their prize. Basil and Bam started their day at 10am at the Boaston Society Lifestyle Space in Long Street where they were styled in Imprint by Mzukisi Mbane. Mbane will be presenting his SS16 collection on Saturday at 3pm. Basil was dressed in Boaston Society’s in-house brand, UNNNCD.

This was followed by a visit to the Adriaan Kuiters studio in Kloof Street where the winning pair were dressed in the latest Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulsen collection. Their Spring and Summer showcase is tonight at 9.30pm.

 M.A.C. Cosmetics resident senior artist Keagan Cafun applying makeup on Azola. Picture by Tracey Adams

M.A.C. Cosmetics resident senior artist Keagan Cafun applying makeup on Azola. Picture by Tracey Adams

The winners received a special make-up tutorial by M.A.C. Cosmetics resident senior artist Keagan Cafun, who gave them the latest on makeup tips and tricks. Basil’s experience was topped off with being taught how to walk the runway by one of the country’s best runway models, Jimi Owobo Ogunlaja of the Jimisterio Catwalk Academy. When it comes to making an impression on the catwalk, Basil was not too far off in achieving the perfect runway walk, says Ogunlaja.

“Basil is a natural at it. However, he needs to work on walking with a straight back posture and avoid swinging his arms.

“When it comes to walking down the catwalk, it’s important to keep your head and shoulders straight. The movement is from your waist to your thighs and don’t exaggerate. Always remember it’s not about you, it’s about the garment you are wearing… and that’s what determines a good runway model,”says Ogunlaja.

Jimi Owobo Ogunlaja of the Jimisterio Catwalk Academy teaching Keegan how to walk on the runway. Picture by Tracey Adams.

Jimi Owobo Ogunlaja of the Jimisterio Catwalk Academy teaching Keegan how to walk on the runway. Picture by Tracey Adams.

Our winners ended the day with a photoshoot at the V&A Waterfront. Reflecting on
their experience, the highlights for Basil, an actor and presenter of the KeeganBshow
on Hashtag radio, included the runway tutorial and wearing designer clothes.

“Having Ogunlaja teaching me how to strut down the runway was a highlight for me as he is one of the models I look up to. I’ve taken in everything that he told me,” says Basil.

Bam’s highlights included learning the ins-and-outs of applying makeup. “I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given. I valued the experience, especially since I am still new in the industry.

“I got to learn about local designers and the backstage life,” says Bam, a student and model signed with casting agency Almost Famous.

●Ticket prices for the Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week Cape Town are R100 to R250. For tickets and more information on shows, go to: Webtickets (www.webtickets.co.za)

Azola wearing Imprint by Mzukisi Mbane. Picture by Tracey Adams.

Azola wearing Imprint by Mzukisi Mbane. Picture by Tracey Adams.

Keegan wears a top by Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulse. His pants is supplied by Boaston Society in-house brand UNNNCD. Picture by Tracey Adams

Keegan wears a top by Adriaan Kuiters and Jody Paulse. His pants is supplied by Boaston Society in-house brand UNNNCD. Picture by Tracey Adams

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on July 30 2015.

City set for in-your-face fashion fest: MBFWCT

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Bold colours with a twist of African flavour will distinguish one of the biggest fashion events in the city – the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (#MBFWCT)

This year’s theme is “Creative Freedom”, to celebrate the
World Design Capital 2014. Michelle-Lee Collins of make-up brand MAC, one of the event’s partners, said the focus would be on bringing everyday creativity to life.

“Expect a lot of blues, oranges and a lot of manipulation of natural colours. “It’s all about a new type of natural but with a pop of colour.”

Sizwe Nzimande, spokesman for organiser and leading fashion authority African Fashion International (AFI), said at the media launch last night: “As Cape Town enjoys its status as World Design Capital 2014, we are celebrating creative freedom under the pillars of fashion, art and design, with exciting developmental platforms to add a uniquely engaging element to the event.”

The fashion week team pulled out all the stops yesterday at the media launch to showcase the best of Capem Town. Journalists were ferried in limousines to three gorgeous locations where installations featured models wearing inyour- face designs and bold make-up.

With multiple shows over the three-day fashion week, the event at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from July 24 to 26 will showcase Spring and summer collections by established and emerging designers.

More than 25 of the country’s top designers will present their collections in 15 shows. They include designers Gavin Rajah, KLûK CGDT, Stefania Morland, Fabiani and Craig Port, Lara Klawikowski, Pichulik, Nicholas Coutts,Michelle Ludek, Tart, Ruald Rheeder, Non-European, Spilt Milk, Lo, Lazuli, Danielle Margaux & Selfi, as well as newcomers Eleni Labrou of AKEDO.

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus (June 27 2014) All pictures by Tracey Adams

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