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Ruff Tung is ahead of the curve when it comes to plus-size fashion

Designers Bridget Pickering and Ludwig Bausch of Ruff Tang are leading the charge for body positivity in the SA fashion industry. They tell us more about their INCLUSIVE range

22 October 2017 - 00:00 By Nothemba Mkhondo
Statement prints featured heavily in Ruff Tung's MBFWJ17 collection.
Statement prints featured heavily in Ruff Tung's MBFWJ17 collection.
Image: SDR Photos

Who is the Ruff Tung woman?

As designers, we're inspired by confident, contemporary women who live full and complex lives. We are 100% motivated by the women we dress, and have always designed with an honest approach to what women want. In short, Ruff Tung is all about celebrating a positive self-image.

The Ruff Tung demographic starts at 28 years old, with our core market in their 30s and 40s. We often hear women lamenting about body goals or wanting to change something about their image.

In a bid to counter this, our brand mantra of "live your best life now" stands firm. We believe a positive self-image is all about confidence.

What inspired your latest collection?

The most important inspiration behind our range is the Ruff Tung woman and what we call our "curve conversations". We have been consciously engaging with our audience in an attempt to create pieces that reflect all women. In short: You spoke and we listened.

Our Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg 2017 (MBFWJ17) show would not have been what it was without the influence of the incredible women we dress. Our aim was to energise this season's fashion fix with bold blooms and eye-popping bouquets of statement prints, combined with our signature silhouettes - all things kimono, twist detailing and tulip shapes - embracing the joy and romance of the season.

How do you design collections that flatter all body shapes and sizes?

We use our prints and colour to strategically enhance the best areas of the female form. Strong, feminine silhouettes are always our key focus. We make our designs personal and this allows us to better understand who "she" is and how our designs can add value to her life.

A model walks the runway for Ruff Tang at MBFWJ17.
A model walks the runway for Ruff Tang at MBFWJ17.
Image: SDR Photo

What inspired you to create a size-inclusive range?

We are motivated by the women we dress, so our size curve has grown organically to include a 46/48. We are astounded by the lack of choice curvy women have in the retail environment, and this has driven us to give all women an inclusive fashion experience - at the same prices her straight-sized sisters enjoy.

Our sales history showed us that our sizes 38 (XL) and 40 (XXL) sell out first, so we continued that curve conversation, paying attention to what our customer base was telling us. These conversations exposed a market of women struggling to find fashionable pieces across an extended size curve. With our new Ruff Tung INCLUSIVE collection, we hope to fill this gap.

How has your plus-size offering changed in recent seasons?

We had a design "ah ha" moment when we were working on a straight- and plus-size collection for one of our stockists. After two seasons of immersing ourselves in a collection for our curvy customers, the idea of Ruff Tung INCLUSIVE was officially born, enabling all women to shop the same fashion experience, regardless of size. Our ethos is now simple: If you love the Ruff Tung aesthetic, then welcome to our world of fashion.

Your most recent runway show featured an incredibly size-diverse cast and the audience responded with screams of excitement. What were your thoughts when casting for this show?

Without being glib or clichéd, dressing for your body shape really is about confidence. And, the power of a good frock!

For MBFWJ17, we wanted to represent all sizes on the runway. It wasn't a show about "plus" fashion, but more a collection representing every woman at every size. Our runway showcased professional AFI models, as well as plus-size models and respected women from the industry.

This enabled our customers to see a body shape like theirs on the runway - perhaps for the first time. We were honoured to work with so many talented, supportive women who helped us make our inclusive dream come true. When it comes to the response - let's just say, the audience doesn't lie.

What is the most important thing to remember when dressing for your body shape?

Without being glib or clichéd, it really is about confidence. And, the power of a good frock! Lose the stigma of hiding what you have under volume or layering.

Rather wear form-flattering silhouettes - empire lines, wrap dresses, jumpsuits - and show off the best part of your figure, whether it's your shoulders, chest, waistline, booty or legs. Don't hide.