Chic Fusion is a design and manufacturing studio that creates hand-felted home decor and fashion accessories in 100% wool. Founder Razaan Jakoet was inspired to work with natural fibres and fabrics to explore various felt-making techniques. She experiments with dyes and various fibres and is inspired by the South African landscape and its diverse cultures. Razaan designs all the products in the Chic Fusion range before handing over the felting to women she trains at her studio in Woodstock, Cape Town.
“For years I nurtured the dream of owning a business that would allow me to explore my own ideas. The great revival of the ancient craft of felt making led me to start dabbling in felting and techniques in fool fibres and dying,” she tells The Craft and Design Institute. “After years of exploring, I succeeded in developing a highly visible product for a niche market by pushing boundaries with my innovation through hand-felt home decor and accessories.”
Running a sustainable business, being conscious of social impact and ethical material sourcing, are at the core of Chic Fusion’s operations. “Our enterprise has a record of ethical sourcing of materials. We rework these into contemporary designs which adds a delightful appeal, Razaan says. “I employ and empower women from marginalised communities. Once I’ve completed the designs I hand over the process to trained artisans at my studio. One of the greatest joys that I’m able to perform is my love for teaching by training young, unskilled women at my studio. It is incredibly rewarding to make a positive impact on their lives as well.”
In a research study conducted by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition in 2021, titled Assessing the Economic Value of the Designer Fashion Sector in South Africa, it was found that nearly 30% of designers in South Africa are conducting their own manufacturing, as opposed to outsourcing. The study also showed that by employing artisans and makers to produce designer’s work, like in the case of Chic Fusion, the South African design sector currently supports over 11 000 people.
The materials used in the Chic Fusion studio include 100% Merino wool and caracol wool from certified buyers. (Read more about how other brands are using Merino wool in sustainable ways here). In research conducted for the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Prof Desiree Smal writes that design and designers have the potential to drive holistic sustainable practices in the fashion system. However, “the declining textile industry of South Africa makes it either almost impossible, or very costly, to work within an environmentally sustainable framework, and is a major impediment in the implementation of the environmental sustainability in praxis.” Businesses that decide to operate within an environmentally sustainable framework “do so because of inherent personal values and ethics.”
Razaan says that everything Chic Fusion does is governed by respect for the environment. “From using rainwater or spring water, to reusing waste wools and not throwing everything in the bin.” At the core of Chic Fusion’s beliefs is the idea that inspirational design with sustainable materials is fundamental to enhancing the human experience.
Visit Chic Fusion’s website to learn more.
Follow Chic Fusion on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chicfusiontextiles/