Khula aims to create a global “walking gallery.” Each Khula bag features artwork from South African artists. Their paintings, illustrations, graffiti, photography are reproduced by digital print or painted by hand directly, depending on each artist’s chosen medium and method.
Khula came to life 2.5 years ago when founder Moniek van Erven moved to Johannesburg and fell in love with its rhythm, diversity and people. She felt the need to give a voice to the alternative narrative expressed in the artworks of South African artists – providing a canvas for their work, a ‘voice’ for their stories and providing additional income for the artists with a share for the sale of each bag.
Khula means ‘growth’, and Moniek has gathered a community of talented, like-minded individuals, to make sure that everything about Khula is about growth through art.
“By wearing a Khula bag, you support the possibility of a more diverse world, where the story of individuals finds a platform and art is a vehicle for reflection and expression; building valuable connections supported by a vision of collaboration.”
MONIEK VAN ERVEN
“Slow and ethically produced fashion will hopefully take over the world. People have already started to be more conscious when purchasing their clothing, demanding insight into the materials used and the people who made it. ”
MONIEK VAN ERVEN
ANY ADVICE FOR TOMORROW’S YOUNG DESIGNERS?
I’d say firstly don’t let anyone tell you that anything is impossible. If you have an innovative concept people inevitably come up with a million reasons why it wouldn’t work. But rather than discussing your idea with everyone, just put your head down, go to work, make it happen. And then show them that nothing is impossible. Secondly, I’d say that it’s useful to have a plan in place for production scale-up and quality control, so that when demand grows, you’ll be able to deliver while not compromising quality.
A WORD WITH
Moniek van Erven
Founder of Khula Wear
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BECOME A FASHION DESIGNER?
I’m actually not a fashion designer, I’m an economist (MSc degree in Finance) and social entrepreneur. Right after graduation I live in India for a while to work as a volunteer in a micro-credit bank in a rural village. I met a few seamstresses, and decided to start a project to help them to become independent entrepreneurs. This resulted in a fashion label and own manufacturing facility called Satara training 30 underprivileged, illiterate, widowed women. These 30 women are now successfully running the factory, independent of me.
The reason I chose to start a fashion label and not any other type of product, was that I was fascinated by the colours and fashion style of the Indian people, and I wanted to use those traditional influences to create a collection of handwoven and hand-dyed high-fashion garments.
WHAT STYLE ARE YOU BEST KNOWN FOR?
Original products, with great detail, made with love.
HIGH QUALITY, LOCALLY SOURCED MATERIALS
Our bags are made in South Africa with locally sourced raw materials and high quality brass fittings. We use strong snap hooks to hold your keys or to hold the sling, and a YKK zipper that will last a life time.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRINTING TECHNIQUES
We use 100% cotton twill and high quality canvas, and print the artwork with environmentally friendly solvent free water based ink. The printing method we use doesn’t need pre-treatment and has almost zero wastage. An environmentally friendly weather and dirt proof coating will keep the print beautiful, crisp and clear.
LOCALLY SOURCED VEGETABLE DYED LEATHER
The locally sourced leather is a by-product from the meat industry, cow hides used are vegetable dyed with environmentally friendly chemicals by a high quality South African tannery.
The bags are assembled by a small scale Cape Town manufacturer with excellent social and environmental sustainable practices. They provide a good living wage and pleasant working conditions to their employees, as well as opportunities to their families living in the Cape Town townships.