On Thursday, 14 November at the Country Club, Johannesburg, Da Vinci hosted the 2019 tt100 Business Awards Programme recognizing South Africa’s most innovative companies. These companies are celebrated for demonstrating excellence in co-creating new workplaces and realities. One such company is Roman Handt, a conceptual design label founded in 2010.
Among other awards, Roman Handt received the Department of Science and Innovation Director-General Award for Overall Excellence.
Roman Handt started as a small company and has since grown over the years. Having been in the fashion industry for a long time the company ventured into more specific projects such as film as well as artistic ventures.
The textile artisans started a gender-neutral fashion with its own signature concepts that have been adopted by many.
“We are not focused on the in sleeve for the season, our approach is that a garment has a concept and it will be relevant for multiple seasons because that is the draw power of that garment,” said Roman of Roman Handt.
Keeping a healthy working environment
Roman Handt upholds the production of the garments and invests in the right technologies. “We care about where our garment is from, where its produced and we always try to regulate if there was any animal cruelty involved or child labour. On top of that, we have a very healthy working environment and we are always collaborating with other artists. We always try to keep the motto of upliftment in our workspace,” Roman said.
“We don’t work from pictures, we usually co-design with our client, we drape from our client and also try to educate our clientele about what fashion is,” he continued.
Journey with tt100
In 2016, Roman Handt was shortlisted from a group of designers selected at South Africa Fashion Week to take part in a business programme offered by Da Vinci. “We then enrolled in a programme and studied a business course to help us evaluate our business model,” said Roman.
In 2018, the company was announced as the winner of the Excellence in the Management of Innovation in the category for emerging enterprise. “Being part of the tt100 Business Awards programme has shown us growth, we have changed even in our approach. We don’t just make beautiful evening wear, we are more than just a fashion design company,” he said.
Much like every business, Roman Handt has had its fair share of challenges but managed to bounce back. “Although we have encountered a number of challenges along the way, we have managed to build a relationship with our clients and it always works. Where the problem comes is when we try to produce a product that does not resonate with what we do like a commercial piece of clothing. We like to think of ourselves as making art and not as making production,” revealed Roman.
tt100 influence and Future Plans
Speaking about how the future of the company, Roman said, “We hope to grow our business and collaborate with more businesses. We want to inspire other fashion entrepreneurs and show them that fashion entrepreneurship is important. Teach them that it’s about how innovative you are and going out to find new markets.
“We really want to inspire the younger generation, contribute to the local economy and uplift the whole industry, that is what we are about,” he continued.
To all other fashion designers looking to take part in initiatives such as the tt100, Roman said, “Go for it, do everything for yourself and charge!”
By Fundisiwe Maseko