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After shaking up the men’s fashion underwear scene in South Africa, the Undacova duo of Christian Kilchling and Percy Ndaba are tackling women’s lingerie.
In 2008, Kilchling and Ndaba teamed up to form Undacova in Cape Town. Ndaba, who is trained as a fashion designer as well as a buyer, handles sourcing and garment development for the brand. Kilchling, a graphic designer with years of experience in fashion, oversees the conceptual work, such as trend scouting and theme development, as well as color direction and prints.
“The brand was really born out of the apparent need for a young, fun, well-produced and reasonably priced underwear product in the South African market,” Kilchling said. “Undacova is a brand that picks up on local trends and subcultures while coming across with an international handwriting. I suppose that is what also makes Undacova different.”
Comprised primarily of cotton, Undacova’s boxers, briefs and trunks feature striking color combinations, bold graphics, sexy silhouettes and a tongue-in-cheek attitude. Kilchling characterizes it as a “100 percent South African brand, designed and made in South Africa. It’s about underwear and African hedonism,” he quipped.
Adding the women’s range — which was unveiled at Cape Town Fashion Week in July 2011 — was an organic response to popular demand.
“When we launched the men’s wear product in fall 2008, it went into stores and sold out quickly. There were calls immediately from customers for a ladies’ range. By the time the brand was officially launched in Cape Town’s Design Indaba show in March 2009, we were showing underwear for both men and women,” explained Kilchling.
While the men’s range is available in select Woolworth department stores throughout South Africa, finding a niche for the women’s line has been a challenge.
“It has proven more difficult to find an adequate retailer to stock the ladies’ range. But we are planning to put a small selection of pieces from our spring-summer 2011-2012 collection into independent boutiques this year. Next year, we want to focus on finding a big retailer to carry the whole range,” he said.
Suggested retail for the women’s line starts at $10.50.