Online clothing store RHTC is the brainchild of Mpumelelo Mfula – a 23 year old politics graduate who, by his own admission, has ‘never been interested in formal employment’. Besides styling the standard fashion-savvy hipster, his online store has also styled rap sensation Khuli Chana. I caught up with him at his stall at ‘The Grove Market’ to find out more about RHTC
What is RHTC?
“RHTC is an acronym for “Returning Home to Create. It’s an online store that sells culture.”
You “sell culture”?
“Yeah. All the labels we sell are from South African designers and they have a distinctly African aesthetic. And since clothing is one of the highest forms of expression, our clothing gives people tools to express their Africanness.”
Why did you start RHTC?
“While I was still in varsity I worked as a brand ambassador for a couple of commercial brands. But after a while I realized that you give these brands so many of your ideas and…you give them your essence, but when your contract is over – that’s it. You realize that you’ve just contributed to someone else’s success. Why not just invest in your own shit? Plus I’ve never been interest in formal employment.”
“Yes, really. While I was studying politics I learnt that most black South Africans are living under a culture of dependency. They’re a paycheck away from losing everything, and that’s because they work for someone. They don’t own anything. To gain financial independence you need to own your shit. That’s what this is about.”
What brands do you currently sell?
“Babatunde, Kreative Beings, Retrofontein and Phanda Bags.”
How do you choose the designers you work with?
“It’s an organic process. All the brands bring something different to the table. Babatunde is pretty popular. Plus I used to model for the owner, Gary Cowden so we’ve always had a relationship. Retrofentein are a cool label too. They specialize in print and they’ve styled Khuli Chana a couple of times. Phanda Bags was started by a dude called Prince Thila. He’s been designing bags for two years and he was looking for a retail outlet, so he decided to work with RHTC. Kreative Beings are also an exciting label. It’s owned by two matric students and I think it encapsulates what RHTC is about – young, black and progressive”
What are some of the challenges of owning an online clothing store?
“Production is a big problem. We never release more than ten units of a product at a time so, most of the time, demand exceeds supply. Funding is also a problem. There’ve been times when we’ve had to loan a few of our designers some money so they can make new clothes. We’re still learning how to run a business.”
Where would you like to see RHTC in five years?
“There’s no set answer for that. Whatever happens, will happen. But I’d really like for us to own. Not just our own property but street culture as a whole. We should dictate what South African street culture is.”
To view RHTC’s catalogue, visit rhtconline.com or visit the store’s twitter page – @RHTConline.