I have some hot-off-the-press news!

A new online store has just launched into the SA market. Selling proudly South African designer ware, Red on Top is an online store which is “a celebration of creativity, design and manufacture.” And most exciting of all: it is based in little old East London!!!!

If I told you online shopping is the next big thing to hit South Africa, don’t think I’v been living under a rock! So-called ‘experts’ will tell you that big brands like Kalahari and Amazon have the market sewn up. They have the scale, the supply-chains and the deep pockets to completely dominate the market – so don’t bother. And yet the space is flourishing with new local players emerging every month. I am a big fan of online shopping; it’s so convenient and satisfies retail therapy needs in the midst of a bad day! (Some local favourites of mine, sure to distract me in a deadline, are Yuppie Chef (love!) and 36 Boutiques. Red on Top is soon to be on that list!)

What the new breed of online shopping brands like ‘newbie’ Red on Top have realised, is that us consumers actually like to have our options narrowed down for us. Faced with infinite choice, most shoppers either freeze or flee. And so these stores have become curators – carefully selecting the best or coolest new items –  unlike the “mass” stores .

Red on Top sells world-class products that come from across the spectrum of shopping: from homeware to furniture and apparel. But all of these share three common characteristics: they’re fashionable, bespoke, and most importantly, absolutely everything is designed and manufactured right here in South Africa! This is something that the founders of the company (East London locals Richie and Karen Field) are extremely passionate about, and it forms the base of their brand, which is derived from the post-apartheid new South African flag and all the renewed sprit and energy that the flag brought.

There is a definitive aesthetic or look of the products on the Red on Top website; it is  a far cry from the afro-chic/safari look that is often associated with South African designer-ware. When asked about their product-choice, Richie and Karen have sourced items which they simply love, it’s a collection of all things they would like in their home or want to wear. Richie says that this ‘look’ is “inspired by the modern classics; which is characterised by simple, clean lines with a retro edge”.

The Red on Top portal is a fabulous way for small scale creative’s to showcase and retail their products. The idea being that designers can sell their ware under their own name or brands and not necessarily under the Red on Top trademark. Some creatives whose pieces are being sold include Head On Design, a Cape Town based design studio who creates African animal sculptures in different natural, and mostly recycled materials. I just absolutely love the black and white graffiti kudu head! It is so clever, and such a novel take on the traditional ‘trophy’ we South Africans have come to love or hate. Some other creatives showcased on Red on Top include Umcebo Design for beaded lights, other East London local Stretford Holdings for cool designer furniture, and Vanilla Concrete for the most gorgeous ceramic ware (The bird teapot was surely made for me!)

Like many others in this new wave of online shopping, Red on Top realises the value of the intangibles: uniqueness, simplicity, beauty, attention to detail and the power of a good story.

So go check them out. They are proudly local,  proudly South African, and celebrating South African design is something we should all support.

Their website has just gone live and is ready to fulfil your retail therapy needs at the click of a mouse!  They will also be having regular pop-up stores so watch this space for news of the first one… it’s not to be missed!


proudly south african

“20 questions” (….. or more like 5!)

  1. How do you like to spend a Sunday? G&T’s around the pool (R&K)
  2. Favourite place in SA? Cape Town(R) Morgan’s Bay (K)
  3. Favourite SA designer? David Krynauw (R)
  4. Most lust after item? An Eames lounger (R) a coffee table (K)
  5. What do you love most about East London? The outdoors (R) the lack of traffic! (K)