Ladies and Gentleman, a parallel universe in the form of fashion (label is too irresponsible a word) kingdom, Row-G has been right under our noses for the past five years. A few weeks ago, I received a hand delivered invitation from the office of trend analyst and somebody whose taste and opinions I have known, trusted and respected for years, Dion Chang. The message came with a ''trust me on this one'' clause and in Dion we trust. Oh man!
Row-G, is a made to measure and ready to wear menswear label, for lack of a better word, that sees its clients by appointment only on the second floor of its very elegant, but not that gaudy nouvou riche ostentation, head quarters in Milpark. It is a business in which the mother, father and brother/s of designer Rahim Rowjee are fully involved, from human resources, administration to champagne and canape tet-a-tet's with the media.
We, a handful of about 9 media, were taken into a realm of quality, meticulous craftsmanship and pure class that I personally have never encountered in South African fashion, and I've seen things. Before I felt a suit jacket or looked at what kind of lining accompanied the trousers, I was really impressed by the immediately palpable attention to detail and presentation adopted by this obviously erudite designer. We were greeted by a tall woman with a thick Eastern European accent who wore a head piece that let her tell the people upstairs, that Milisuthando, Aspasia, Chipo or Sharon is on her way up; Dion introduced us to the designer and various family members, champagne in hand, while we marveled at our surroundings, a place concomitant with precision.
Row-G first showed at SA Fashion Week circa 2000 and was in the class of your Clive Rundles, Black Coffees and Stoned Cherries. After that, Rahim decided to take a break from the industry before he, almost surreptitiously, made his return 5 years ago. The showroom, where clients can choose from an array of up to 900 thread count fabrics from British and Italian Mills, houses jacket, trouser, collar, cuff and shirt samples and is only the tip of the iceberg, because the real fun happens downstairs in the factory. I only ever read that Valentino or Karl Lagerveld's technical team all wear white lab coats when they are at work. Well, I came face to face with this urban legendy type scenario, because the technical team at Row-G all wear white lab coats while they are at work. That factory really did me in, first of all you could hear a pin drop safe for the sporadic sound of the buttonist or the pocket maker. Secondly, it is filled with state of the art machinery, a perfect fusion of the abilities of the human hand and technology and there's even a quality control room - a sight that gives credence to this brand's dedication to producing a quality product.
Why don't I have a (rich) boyfriend to play dress up with? The cost of a made to measure suit or one designed from start to finish by Row-G? You're looking at parting with anything from R9 000 - R45 000 with up to 6 weeks delivery. Yes, it's a lot. But if you have that kind of money and you like really nice things, then yes. And nice things we had, champage, crayfish and oysters were our palette pleasures for the day. This is a fantastic thing to happen to fashion in South Africa. This is a business to watch with a lot of interest.