Created by designer Luke Radloff, UNI FORM is a Johannesburg-based South African fashion brand founded with the aim of transcending outdated notions of what the African fashion world has to offer. Rooted in ideas of quality and sustainability, modular, trans-seasonal pieces form the core of UNI FORM’s collections. Radloff trained as a designer at the London Institute of Fashion in Johannesburg before going on to work for South African fashion brand Black Coffee after his studies. Following this, he ventured out on his own, spending some time in London where he worked for brands including Marni. After moving back to Johannesburg seven years ago, he worked at ready-to-wear brand Kisua before deciding to launch UNI FORM in 2020.
Defined by relaxed fits, soft tailoring, clean lines, and a muted color palette, the brand’s timeless aesthetic is expressed through collections of elevated classics rendered in ultra contemporary silhouettes. UNI FORM’s emphasis on impeccable tailoring has resulted in the creation of sustainable, quality garments that boast a distinctly minimalistic sophistication.
It’s very organic,” Radloff told Twyg. of his creative process. “I’m not a designer who chooses a starting point and builds around it, rather I build on previous work and constantly develop and redevelop. I’m inspired to create garments that are considered and have a solid context within the world today.”
Describing the UNI FORM customer as one who values and appreciates the sustainability of a considered, long-lasting item, the brand has always prioritized sustainability as a goal. To Radloff, a truly sustainable garment is one that can be worn for a very long time—perhaps forever if looked after correctly—and not simply end up in a landfill. Most of UNI FORM’s pieces are made up of natural fibers due to their feel, handle and longevity. They also use some tech fabrics and sustainable man-made cellulose fibers, with the goal of keeping everything 100% locally sourced where possible. Most of Radloff’s collections consist of neutral tones. Part of the reason for this is that he’s cognizant that dying processes can be toxic and harsh on the environment and his intention is to take his time exploring the most responsible ways to incorporate more color.
UNI FORM has also made collaborations with local, eco-friendly platforms a priority in their pursuit of improving sustainable production. In 2021, they started collaborating with Barrydale Hand Weavers, a collective based in the tiny Karoo town called Barrydale that creates textiles through using looms and other sustainable processes. Together Radloff and BHD created pieces with sustainability at their core. UNI FORM has also worked with The Wren Design, a Cape Town-based recycled cement paper accessories manufacturer, in a partnership that experimented with the use of paper as a vehicle to further the conversation of sustainability in design.