”Written byChristian Staines
“Things can be done in a natural and sustainable way, without losing the creativity and expression of one’s brand.”
Candor: the quality of being open and honest; frankness.
Just off lower main road, and with Devils Peak as its backdrop, you’ll find a building that sets itself apart from its surroundings. Jet black and dripping in gold, you may as well have just arrived at El Dorado. A pair of delicate hands reach up towards a bold print that reads STUDIO CANDOR. Within lies a treasure trove of vintage fabrics, avant-garde accessories and flipped furniture. It only gets better from here.
Studio Candor began online in March of 2020 – seven days before lockdown began. Despite this being an extremely trying time to start a business, Candor has more than prospered. Exactly one year later, they opened their doors onto the bustling streets of Observatory; a neighbourhood known for its alt-wear and thrift stores. From here, Candor began producing all their garments in-house, hiring a handful of local machinists who have been in the game longer than most of us have been alive.
After passing through the golden threshold, you’re likely to be greeted by frontman and all-round gem, Tristan du Preez. There to help guide your gaze towards their latest batch of retro cuts. The clothes at Candor are made for self-expression with the intention of being as gender-neutral as possible. Conventional sizing is done away with and what remains are loose-fitting, flexible, matching sets for any occasion. “I like to describe our style of clothes as the lovechild of vintage and leisure. Where it’s comfortable but also has that sense of timelessness.” Their aesthetic echoes the trends of a bygone era, something they attribute to their secret formula.
Way back in the 80s and 90s, Cape Town was experiencing a textile boom. So much so, that entire warehouses were filled with off-cuts, factory rejects and out of style patterns. Fast-forward to the present day, and these deadstock fabrics are still sitting there waiting to be used. The Candor designers sift through these materials until they find the ones with just the right feel and colour. From there, they are cut, stitched and sewn into the incredible clothes you see today. By upcycling these deadstock fabrics, Candor isn’t adding to the ever-growing material hoards around the world, whilst also ensuring that they give new life to what’s already there. An added benefit to this process is that the material used in their vintage-styled clothes actually comes from a time when things were built to last.
“The lovechild of vintage and leisure. Where it’s comfortable but also has that sense of timelessness.”
Studio Candor holds two values above all else. First is Transparency, something that should already be clear from their name. Hop on their website or strike up a conversation in-store and there’s nothing to hide. If you’re interested in who makes all the clothes, then you can be taken into the back to meet their friendly and dedicated team. It’s not often you get to meet the people making your clothes. Usually, there’s this invisible barrier or mental block between manufacturer and consumer; we don’t know because we don’t want to know. Studio Candor is part of the #WhoMadeMyClothes movement, designed to break down these barriers. “That’s something we really push for in all consumers: just know where your products came from. How it got to the shelf, because it doesn’t just appear there.”
Secondly, Candor has a keen interest in life-long sustainability. There’s an old saying that goes: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is right now.” If you’re trying to make your business sustainable, then yeah, it probably would’ve been best to start when you began, but you can’t. So you might as well start now. “True sustainability comes from forgiving yourself and trying again. From understanding that it’s a journey and that you should make compromises where you can. Trying your best to make it a lifestyle so that it can start to sustain itself.”
Almost everything at Studio Candor has been or is going to be reused, recycled, or upcycled. Ranging from the fabrics they use, their labels, their seed-infused business cards, their packaging, even their buildings’ water doesn’t go to waste. Left-over material is turned into scrunchies, face masks, or dog collars. “Sustainability works out to be a bit more expensive, but you can always make a plan.” Sustainability isn’t some final point you can just reach and settle at. It has to be constantly reviewed and innovated to ensure you are doing the most. “A big part of owning a sustainable business is keeping your eyes open for new ways to change your course and to explore new avenues of sustainability.”
Studio Candor is hoping to set the perfect example of how small businesses should be run in the modern age. Where their business model is centred around sustainability and transparency, where their clothes look stunning and don’t discriminate, and where it all comes together for an extremely affordable price. What’s more is their store already includes a good variety of merchandise from other small businesses like Mooi Mirrors, Blazon, Lore Botanica, Mermaid Purses and Kawrhu Earrings, with more collabs on the way.
“True sustainability comes from forgiving yourself and trying again. From understanding that it’s a journey and that you should make compromises where you can.”
So what’s next for the Candor team?
Next week, they plan to open the new wing of their store focused more on home decor and interior aesthetics called ‘Funk Shui’. It includes antiques, artworks done by local creatives and furniture that has been given a new lease of life.
What’s even more exciting is that on Saturday the 29th of January, they will be hosting the third instalment of their collaborative events – Shindig III. This time around, it will focus more on setting up a market space for other local businesses. There will be puppies and kittens, jewellery, artworks, drinks and more! To top it all off, The CCC team will also be making an appearance in our very own space set up for creating, collaborating and connecting. Doors will be open from 10am-6pm, so come pop in for a bit.