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Feature article - Cape {town} Etc (Winter 2023 issue)

Written by Robyn Simpson

Published on 17/09/2023 - Cape {town} Etc magazine

Read the original article here.


Mad Dogs Clothing, the fashion brand that made waves in the ’90s, has resurfaced with a bang under the new direction of Raoul Owens. Its designs epitomised the era with baggy sweatshirts, sweatpants and loose-fitting tees. In a nostalgic reverie, you might conjure memories of jeans hanging off bums, eliciting incredulous gazes from grandmas everywhere. That’s fashion, baby, and along with scrunchies and jelly shoes, Mad Dogs is not only back, but back in fashion.

The origin of the brand has been traced back to the late 80s, when it operated out of Greenmarket Square. It was then officially established in 1993 and later became a national franchise. ‘Its success came down to the distinct brand identity, complemented with great quality, and presented in a fun and unique way, through the means of tin cans,’ says Raoul. (In the past, items were packed into tin cans rather than shopping bags – an eco-friendly alternative that he is keen to reintroduce.)

A scroll through its Instagram feed is reminiscent of flipping through a family photo album. Indeed, it’s a rare opportunity to delve into the wardrobes of our youth or embody a style that resonated with our parents in years past.
Since Raoul’s involvement in 2018, the brand has evolved by revisiting its roots, a delightfully ironic strategy that doesn’t mess with the original design elements, including that spectacled dog sporting an unabashed grin. ‘Elevating the brand meant that we wanted to contain the beating heart of the Mad Dogs identity but present it in such a way that it reflects a more serious nature.’ 

The essence of Mad Dogs that you hold dear remains intact. Raoul emphasises that all their apparel is designed to be unisex, aiming to eliminate gender-specific clothing and foster inclusivity. Everyone is welcomed into the ‘pawsome’ family. And, of course, everything is made locally.
‘Personally, I think locally made goods and apparel are fantastic. In the fast-paced modern world of high consumption, it is easy for businesses to look across to locations such as China for manufacturing in order to reduce costs. But, I strongly believe that sourcing and producing locally is one of the key factors to strengthening the South African economy.’ Now, that’s something to get behind.