A fashion brand that exudes elegance and timeless glamour, Rubicon Clothing is all that and more. Born in the beautiful province of Limpopo in Venda, Founder and designer Hangwani Nengovhela always had a love for fashion and a sharp eye for detail. Founded in 2002, Rubicon Clothing is one of South Africa’s most beloved fashion brands – worn by women of style and substance from Basetsana Khumalo and Carol Bouwer to international actress Lynn Whitfield – the brand has solidified its space in SA fashion and beyond.
The designer’s fascination for the world of fashion and constructing clothing is deeply rooted in her upbringing. Watching her mother create clothes gave her a deep appreciation for fashion. “My mom started her design and manufacturing business when I was about seven years old. My love for clothes began when I grew up helping her with her business,” says Hangwani.
As much as fashion was her true love and desired career, Hangwani had other plans, which saw her take a detour into advertising. The chic designer, however, left the world of advertising and started her fashion brand. “I knew advertising was not the career for me, so I took a leap of faith and created my own fashion label. And that’s a decision I will never regret,” says the designer.
Longevity in the fashion industry is rare and even more so in South Africa. With Rubicon Clothing celebrating 19 years of design, as well as remaining relevant is no small feat. As Hangwani celebrated this milestone in her career, the mother of two decided to mark her 19th fashion anniversary with a touch of pizzazz at the sophisticated Jenna Clifford jewellery store where she showcased her latest collection titled ‘Myth Re-imagined‘, inspired by the fashion trends from the Mapungubwe Kingdom in Limpopo.
When asked about what’s given her staying power in the fashion business for almost two decades, Hangwani simply explains, “I was taught from an early age to work hard. I believe in the Rubicon brand and what it stands for, which is designing quality as well as timeless and elegant sartorial pieces.”
Myth Re-imagined: The latest collection
Bringing together her connection to Limpopo and her sense of style, Rubicon Clothing’s latest collection is intertwined with her roots.
“This collection is about dreaming and re-imagining fashion history in the Kingdom of Mapungubwe. I have focused on the top-stitching inspired by the emissaries from the Far East. Also in the collection is the cobalt blue, yellow and white colour palette which depicts Mapungubwe surreal landscape, especially its horizon and the gorgeous flora and fauna found in the region,” says Hangwani.
This collection certainly sums up the Rubicon woman: confident, a strong identity, a globetrotter and extremely expressive and unique in the way she presents herself. This also draws back to her favourite muse eras, the 20s and 50s, where women dressed with a sense of pride and dignity.
Fashion boss during a Pandemic
Being innovative is an essential part of moving forward for the fashion industry amidst the pandemic. Adapting is imperative. Hangwani is doing just that. “The uncertain times of Covid-19 has changed the way we conduct business, because not so many of our clients were avid online shoppers,” says Hangwani. “We have ventured into homeware and leisure wear which is something that was in the pipeline before Covid-19.”
So where to from here? The designer aims to keep her brand relevant into the future and beyond. “The Rubicon Clothing brand wants to position the homeware and leisure wear divisions into a commercially viable business,” says Hangwani.
She urges young people dreaming of becoming fashion designers to be dedicated to the their vision. “Passion must be accompanied by great business acumen. Passion alone won’t bring bread to the table. Don’t do it for the fame…fame will follow,” says Hangwani whose legacy is a formidable and admirable one of hard work, resilience and killer business skills.