RUFF TUNG: BY WOMEN FOR WOMEN

In a fashion market dominated by big, established labels, Bridget Pickering has made her name by getting alternative designs known, loved and proudly worn on main street. It’s the story of a wide-reaching partnership.

Born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal, Bridget Pickering looked up to her stylish mother for fashion inspiration. From a young age, her mother always instilled in her that it was about the woman wearing the clothes and not the other way around.

After high school, she went on to study design at Natal Tech before leaving to pursue a career in London. While living in London, Bridget gained international work experience for the iconic brand ‘Liberty of London’ and was introduced to some of globe’s most iconic labels including Issey Miyake, Vivien Westwood, Jill Sander and Helmut Lang. 

“For a young fashionista my mind was understandably blown away by the levels of international fashion that we were not exposed to in SA,” she explains. After nearly 15 years abroad, she decided to return to South Africa and reboot her career.

After returning to South Africa, a major door opened up for Bridget with Paul Botha, the Founder and Creator of Ruff Tung. Paul was also Bridget’s mentor before she left for London.

“Together we had a clear vision of taking a very niche, occasion wear brand and streamlining it for retail.” However, tragedy struck with the sudden passing of Paul. Bridget decided to move the brand to Cape Town and with an incredible support structure, she built the brand into a thriving fashion label.

The key has been a network of original, home-grown, complimentary brands which Bridget has helped to grow into its own industry. Bridget’s passion project has been the THERAPY platform, a collective of 35 local brands under the umbrella of one brand.

“The heartbeat of Ruff Tung has always been collaboration, we’ve always worked with a whole platform of brands and we decided to take ouver our very first retail space – THERAPY, which is derived from the psychology behind women and shopping.

“THERAPY is so much more than just a shop selling local, it’s a mindset, it’s a support network where we can support our people and economy with a positive ripple effect.” The inclusive approach has been inspired by women like Junette Syster, who’s helped turn body-type insecurities into celebrations.

“It’s really amazing working with Bridget because the one thing that comes to mind is iron sharpens iron and when women support women, amazing things happen,” she says. We were on the scene as the team built towards their first Fashion Week since Covid – South African Menswear Week. 

South African Menswear Week (SAMW) is the continent’s only stand-alone platform dedicated to the development and promotion of menswear within Africs. The event aims to provide a world-class platform for menswear designers and brands to showcase their latest collections and this year, THERAPY was part of the designers taking part in SAMW.

With these designs, Bridget is spreading her philosophy that we should wear our best outfits and diamonds, and drink from crystal if we’ve got it. Not save the good stuff for better days.

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