Roman Handt interview
We recently spent some time in studio with one of the coolest guys around town, the menswear designer, Roman Handt, to talk about his time spent in Europe, his rock band persona and his design inspiration.
Lara: You studied at Lisof and after graduating you spent some time freelancing and lecturing, but then you moved to Belgium, what initiated that move?
Roman: Okay well to put it in a nutshell, it’s quite a long story so I’ll condense it for you. I graduated in 2000 and then Lisof asked me to come lecture the year after that, I taught garment construction and technical drawing for first years. Throughout my student career I went overseas to visit family friends and I won a competition or two which took me abroad too and then I went to Belgium of all places, which they tell me is the Pretoria of Europe but its rock and roll man, it was very cool. So I went there for 5 years and I freelanced for a few niche designers, I did mostly pattern making and tailoring. That’s where I really learnt how obsessive people can be about fit, it was very hard; you graduate and you think you have the world at your feet, then you get there and everybody tells you how crap you are so you start right from the bottom. The one thing about the foreign market which is not always the case here is if you start out as a pattern maker they will always keep training you as a pattern maker. You will be the best pattern maker in the world but you will never evolve to the creative side such as design. At one point I thought, technically I knew enough and I wanted to experience the creative side again so I decided to move back and start up the Roman Handt Label.
Lara: When you design a collection, where do you find your creative vision?
Roman: Well there are a lot of things that inspire me, it can be from a visual to food, but primarily it’s also a love that I developed overseas and that’s music. I am very much inspired by different bands, the image, the layering of the sounds. When you hear a piece of music and you just hear how the band sort of tells a story through it, my brain starts ticking over time; I think it’s amazing! I am such a music junkie! I even played in a band back in Belgium, I was a total rock star!
Lara: You will be showcasing your Autumn/Winter 2013 collection at SAFW end of September; are you willing to tell us a little bit about what to expect from your collection or is it under wraps?
Roman: Oh no I don’t know if I should; we are toying around with actually doing a very strong conceptual range. We think it’s quite clever, we actually think it’s quite fun, I will tell you there are only going to be four pieces in the range. You will just have to wait and see what we are going to do! It’s going to be very tongue in cheek, if they get it, they will certainly love it!
Lara: We will most definitely be there! You have quite the cult following abroad, and we’ve heard that you have a few significant opportunities coming your way?
Roman: I myself am very Eurocentric; I would like to believe my clothes could stand on any platform. We don’t follow the philosophy of designing ethnic stuff, I don’t know if it’s such a clever one because we are based in South Africa. With our last fashion show we actually received interest from Italian Vogue Hommes; they asked for our lookbook so we are still holding thumbs, hoping they might be doing a little article on us. We also have interests from Fashizblack Magazine which is a French online magazine and they focus on African fashion paralleled with European fashion which is also fantastic. We have decided to link our fashion with overseas trends and seasons so we are hoping to create a bit of a vibe there. Let’s hold thumbs!
Lara: We are supporting you every step of the way! Roman, thank you so much for a wonderful afternoon and letting us spend time in your studio, it’s been quite the experience and we look forward to seeing you at fashion week!
-Roman Handt will be showcasing at SA Fashion Week on 29 September 2012 at 21:30, follow him on twitter @RomanHandt to stay up to date or visit his newly renovated website at www.romanhandt.com
Words/Lara vd Merwe
Photography/ Phillip Sherman