Most of these unique minds have successfully weathered the local market and fashion storms to become celebrated icons with sizable cult followings, others not so lucky but no less fondly etched in our memories.
Of the designers, it was always Rahim Rawjee whose enthusiasm and charm was of the most endearing. His sharp, powerful silhouettes everything but revealing of his exuberant, warm, persona.
His first editorial coverage appeared in Elle magazine in 2000. “I went to see Dion Chang when he was still the fashion director. That was my first dabble in design,” says Rawjee.
“The first incarnation of Row-G happened around the same time as the Conceptual designers like the Antwerp Six,” recalls Dion Chang. “Rahim was and still is a master of this — very architectural construction, good shoulders. Very ‘out there’”. He was also totally ahead of his time when you think of current ideas around experiential marketing. Rahim pays fine attention to detail at every step of the way — from his invitations on card made with the finest linen, to the final product.”
Alas, after only a couple of years of adding an edge to women’s wardrobes, he put down his pencil and scissors and all but vanished. However, he had something up his sleeve and after spending time out “growing up, improving my business acumen”, he and his brother Shaheed combined forces in 2007 and plotted a comeback. Realising the huge potential of the rapidly expanding male fashion market, they had no plans to do frocks, instead a world-class, made-to-measure luxury menswear brand. Row-G opened its doors in November 2012.
“How's this for luxury?” Rahim asks as he hands me a silvery, incredibly soft and luxurious swatch of silk cloth from Scabal of Savile Row. “It has microscopic diamond fragments added in the weaving process as soon as the cloth has been cleaned and combed and just before it is spun. Diamonds are a man’s best friend,” he enthuses in a soft Canadian accent — Rahim was born in SA but schooled in Toronto where he also graduated from the International Academy of Merchandising and Design before returning to SA in the late 90s.
This summer fabric will surely set you apart from the crowd, and although “a little bit rock ‘n roll”, in Rahim’s good hands I guarantee that you’ll still be taken seriously in any boardroom.