Ruff Tung is a label with a rich history, founded by well-known personality Jean-Paul Botha in 1999, providing edgy club wear to the kids in Natal. ”I’m actually the traditional Ruff Tung girl,” explains Bridget Pickering, current co-owner of Ruff Tung, along with designer Ludwig Bausch. “You must see what Paul used to put me in back in the day (think risqué hot pants). Then as we all grew up he continued to dress us accordingly.”**
Sadly Paul passed away in 2013, but Ludwig, who was running Ruff Tung in Durban, and Bridget, who describes Paul as her first mentor in fashion, continued his legacy, both relocating to Cape Town. The Ruff Tung collections bold prints, blocking and silhouettes still contain Pauls’s design DNA, but with the freshness of Bridget and Ludwig’s own unique design sensibilities.
They’ve also bought more of a retail focus, transforming Ruff Tung from an occasion wear driven niche brand into something more accessable. “The vision is to allow every woman across the board to access a great brand,” explains Bridget. This includes woman of every shape and size, including plus size, or as Bridget puts it “the young, fabulous 30-something career woman who wants to look hot, who doesn’t want conservative plus size dresses thrown at them.”
Ruff Tung pride themselves on well-constructed, curve flattering, quality driven and price effective designs. “The quality, that’s the hardest thing,” says Ludwig, who spent his first year in Cape Town sourcing CMT’s instead of seeing of the sights, “you have to keep the quality consistent.“ One of the CMT’s they’ve entrusted with executing their designs is Sunflower Fashions, owned by the charismatic Nadeema Willenberg. She’s taken Sunflower Fashions through numerous transitions over its 21 years in operation.After being offered to move in house or receive a package at Engen where she worked as PA to Trevor Manuel in the funding department, Nadeema decided it was time to go her own way and take the package. She started out buying and selling factory overruns of children’s clothes, but struggled with the erratic sizing you get through lots.
NAOEEMA WILLENBERG, OWNER OF SUNFLOWER FASHION
JENNIFER FANA. CUTTER