Skip to content

Owners of local luxury fashion and jewellery brands share how they made their mark

We take a look at luxury fashion insights in the industry, and what luxury means to these creatives.

Kat van Duinen

Owner, Kat van Duinen Fashion

Kat van Duinen, Image: Supplied

This year, Kat van Duinen will celebrate a decade since we opened our first boutique. It’s been a challenging journey of trial and error, seeking like-minded people, selecting passion-driven suppliers, and building relationships with the most incredible clients who walked through the door and often became close friends. I don’t think there’s an exact formula to this; it’s a combination of my biggest passion, lots of perseverance and taking risks many advised me not to. I’ve been lucky to have never had to look for creative inspiration; it always finds me.

My greatest inspiration is art, nature, Africa, radical, talented young people, the Cape Town lifestyle, my heritage... the list goes on. I still have so many stories I’d like to tell.

My brand represents a contemporary, timeless aesthetic. It promotes African luxury as we manufacture every item in Cape Town, showcasing the unrivalled artisanal skill and precious natural materials about which many know so little. It talks to fearless women and men, unapologetic in their pursuit of excellence and always dressing the part. People often perceive African luxury as inferior to European and American, but I couldn’t disagree more.

My fashion and style philosophy revolves around a simple and timeless aesthetic. Sophistication is rarely loud and vulgar. I love things that go on, remain and carry memories of many celebratory moments. If in doubt, try less but if you’re in the mood for more, make sure you carry it off without apologising for putting yourself out there.

Kat van Duinen cares about timelessness. I’m appalled by throw-away culture, where nothing’s precious or matters. We throw away trend-based merchandise, manufactured to last for five washes, plastic handbags and shoes and faux leather instead of curating a wardrobe to survive decades.

I think every industry is facing many challenges. The luxury sector’s moving toward mass production. As much as it’s about excellent quality, it should also be about rare and unique pieces, personalisation and service. I worry it’s become a fast-fashion machine, whereby, every year, brands burn tons of clothes to keep the prices up, not allowing the market to flood with discounted items. That needs to change.

Luxury products are custom-made, personalised and unique, which I think our exotic leather bags illustrate well. The markings on each animal skin are different, meaning you won’t find an identical one. To me, that’s the ultimate definition of luxury.

Sindiso Khumalo

Owner, Sindiso Khumalo clothing

Sindiso Khumalo, Image: Supplied

I created my brand to focus on textiles and social upliftment. It was important to me that part of what I do had to address the socio-economic environment in South Africa. I started working with an NGO in Durban about six years ago, making little T-shirts, but I was trying to talk about using textiles for social upliftment. With each season and garment, I keep the stories of iconic Black women and their activism throughout history alive – some of them known and others unknown.

For me, luxury is conscious consumption, ensuring what you consume is ethically and fairly made. Luxury is also about looking after things. Anything we hold dear and luxurious is something that hasn’t only been well-crafted. We pay attention to how it’s been made, and we want to keep it for a long time. It works hand in hand with sustainability because we have to produce and consume consciously.

As to where Sindiso Khumalo is in the luxury market, we’re a contemporary ready-to-wear brand. We try to work with biodegradable materials that are natural and will last a long time. The quality of materials we use for our brand improves our positioning.

Sindiso Khumalo is a brand for all women who love well- crafted, timeless clothing. What I love most about making clothes is bringing something into existence to empower women, using creativity to produce something that can change society and make you feel good about yourself.

There’s something about a garment that can change your mood, the way you think. I think clothing’s part of self-care; it makes you feel a certain way when you are wearing something you adore. I love being a part of bringing positivity to women and improving how they view themselves. And that’s why we design our clothes in a range of sizes. We’re making clothes for real women of any shape or size – and that’s a crucial narrative.

Kirsten Goss

Owner, Kirsten Goss Jewellery

Kirsten Goss , Image: Supplied

After I studied a degree in a fine art, majoring in jewellery design, at Stellenbosch University, I worked for a famous fashion jewellery company in London but knew that, eventually, I wanted to launch my own brand. What I love most about jewellery is that, like punctuation, it determines the entire meaning of a sentence once added. The tiniest ring can say a million things about your style. It was a passion of mine to create my own jewellery with a unique identity I could share with others.

I’ve always loved the idea of considered everyday jewellery, accessible but well-made pieces that stand the test of time. We’ve been in business for nearly 20 years and have developed relationships with our clients based on loyalty and trust. What makes Kirsten Goss Jewellery timeless are the materials we use and sticking to our signature techniques and design roots.

Kirsten Goss jewellery is affordable luxury, classic with a twist, and shaken, not stirred. When creating a luxury brand, crucial elements you can’t compromise on include quality, customer service and pushing the boundaries of what’s new and fresh. Seeking the unusual means hunting down rare gemstones and cuts and using original designs. What interests me is knowing the provenance of a piece: who made it, what from, and is it a limited edition? Buying jewellery whose story is transparent, such as ours as our goldsmiths are in-house, and I design every piece, is the kind of thing people love about our jewellery and brand.

Lukhanyo Mdingi

Owner, Lukhanyo Mdingi Fashion

Lukhanyo Mdingi, Image: Supplied

Luxury to us means having a considered approach and mindful approach to design. I believe that if you can use your ingenuity, time, talent and skills as a means of service to what you’re creating, and if you can be in a space and work with individuals aligned with those intentions – and create as a collective – that becomes the ultimate luxury.

The essence of the Lukhanyo Mdingi (LM) brand is collaboration. We started the label in 2015 to produce essential, timeless pieces that have a considered approach to design. We looked at the provenance of textile development and the root of our textiles. Working with textile designers helped us develop a more transparent and traceable understanding of each piece. It also revealed that this wasn’t a singular process but one that involved many different people.

Through this experience, we recognised the LM label is far beyond itself as a singular brand – it’s a platform where those people inject their time, talent and skills to create something honest. That’s the story woven into our pieces. You can feel the intimacy, strength and honesty in the clothing in which people have contributed so much of themselves. Our consumers are discerning, with a sense of timelessness within themselves and a willingness to support pieces that last a lifetime. They’re not into fads but appreciate the spirit of craft, collaboration and modern refinement. Fashion is a medium that reaches beyond clothes. It’s a vehicle for community, inspiration, and unlimited potential.

Katherine- Mary Pichulik

Owner, Pichulik Jewellery

Katherine- Mary Pichulik, Image: Supplied

The Pichulik brand began as a hobby. I studied fine arts and then started playing with textiles and found objects after returning from a backpacking trip in India and Spain. I’ve always been interested in the meaning of objects and how they can carry stories. Jewellery’s of specific interest because it’s at the intersection of storytelling, history, mythology and personal matrilineal narratives.

It represents the sacred and the ancient, invites rituals and celebrates empowering feminine narratives across continents and lineages. Inspired by mythology and folklore, each piece of jewellery is symbolic, intentionally shaped, handcrafted and embellished to embody sacred storytelling.

Our business is vertically integrated and intimately involved in the process of designing, handcrafting, wholesaling and retailing in-house. We’re perpetually refining our craft and fabrication and making decisions that we feel champion the development of our local economy and education sectors, particularly for women. We make ethical, considered luxury products, and communicate our value systems authentically and innovatively with our customers.

I think the term luxury is starting to mean new things. In my opinion, it’s anything with a story that holds meaning and reverence. Luxury makes you feel good about yourself when you wear it, and I know I can’t feel good if making it negatively affects others.

Our consumers are like-minded women who invest in innovative, authentic, wearable works of art to celebrate special occasions. We’re honoured to adorn women and accompany them in the messy, wild and wondrous journey that is life.

Share this article: