No industry has been immune to the effects of the pandemic and the fashion industry is no exception. Despite this, however, we’ve seen brands developing innovative measures to not only survive but go on to thrive during this climate.
One brand that has done just this is Naked Ape, the birthchild of fashion entrepreneur Shaldon Kopman who has grown the label from a startup to becoming one of the most influential names in South African fashion. Now in its 10th year, Naked Ape took to the Virtual Runway at SA Fashion Week to showcase the newest collection titled.
Your brand. Your baby. Your creation. Naked Ape is turning 10 this year, how does it feel to reach such an incredible landmark?
Phew, time flies . An awesome feeling when one takes the time to reflect and appreciate. Very humbling and very emotional as so much has gone into this journey, and now realising that the journey has only just begun. I am learning all the time.
If someone had told you back in 2010 that you were about to helm an iconic and influential fashion brand, would you have believed them?
Not exactly, no. 10 years ago was all about “getting it right” and to this day it still is. Staying true to your values and beliefs, the ethos of your brand can be very challenging and very easy to stray along the path. I am grateful for managing to establish Naked Ape over the past decade despite all the trials and tribulations and am looking forward to a steadier growth into the future.
What is the key to sustaining such longevity, how do you continue creating with the same passion and hunger you had when you first started?
The passion and hunger to succeed is the driving factor. To keep on reminding myself of why I do what I do. The love of craft keeps me going despite all the challenges and obstacles one has to deal with on a daily. It is very easy to give up, but one does not give up on your calling.
You showcased the latest Naked Ape range — the Street Rover range — at October’s SA Fashion Week – what can you tell us about the latest collection?
I am a great observer, I love people of all sorts and I am fascinated by human behaviour. I am always making pictures in my mind, redesigning existing scenarios. There is beauty all around us, we just need to open our eyes. This collection is born of yet another observation on my long walks during lockdown. The street Rovers create a sustainable living by rummaging through our “waste” for recyclables. They are ambitious, competitive and industrious. They are creative in their garb – practical, functional and protective. Now please note that this is inspiration, and inspiration is not always literal. I have taken a a feather out of the Street Rover’s cap, an adopted attitude that we complain or adapt, I choose the latter.
It’s also an environmentally friendly collection, what was the inspiration behind this move?
This is not a move at all, Eco is one of the most important driving factors of the brand, so it tops the list of the design process and has been since 2010. It might be the new buzz word out here but it has certainly been with us since inception. There is just too much waste, us humans over consume without even realising that greed is new norm. I am very passionate about this topic and could fill pages, but we can leave that for another time.
With summer coming up in SA, what are some fashion tips you’d like to share with our readers (perhaps 2 tips for men, 2 tips for women?)
Be honest with and about yourself. Quality over quantity. Buy and celebrate Local design, not only does it evoke great conversation but also a good feeling that you are contributing to the growth of an industry in dire need.
How has Covid-19 affected the fashion industry?
Negatively – massive losses and forced closure of many businesses, very sad.
Positively – It has given the entire industry time to reflect, reassess, restructure and rejuvenate. Transparency is the new norm and so it should be. Our consumers need to know what they are buying and who benefits from it.
Lastly, this isn’t fashion related but with the entire continent protesting everything from human rights to human trafficking to police brutality to GBV – what are your thoughts and feelings on how Africa can heal as a continent?
I really appreciate this question. I try not to delve into politics yet this has become a norm in our everyday lives and one cannot turn a deaf ear to the recklessness that is going on in our societies and in our governments. As an African, as a lover of our continent, our people, our cultures and our beautiful land, I am extremely concerned. This cleansing process is a necessary yet daunting reality. Situations spiral out of control and result in so much damage that will take years to repair. Let us not even start with the dangers of social media and the false messages that we exposed to on a daily basis. Information is education and vice versa, we need to educate on all levels, let us learn our continent and our people as we have so learnt the East and the West.