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Public Forum’s Launch Collection is Inspired by Joburg Streets

Gigantic Jacaranda trees in flower, taxi ranks and graffiti-filled bus stops in the streets of Joburg serve as the backdrop for Public Forum’s launch collection lookbook. Public Forum is an inclusive clothing brand inspired by founder Luke Radloff’s current place of residence: Johannesburg. The brand is an ode to the real ’streetwear’ and local styling found in this vibrant city.  

To bring the idea to life Radloff collaborated with a team of talented creatives made up of photographer Zander Opperman, creative director Chloe Andrea, Saadique Ryklief and Tammi Mbambo on hair and beauty respectively, as well as the brand’s muse Juliana Kakembo, who embodied the whimsical yet strong feeling that Joburg holds. We spoke with Radloff to learn more about the brand and its debut collection.

How did Public Forum come about?

I liked the idea of creating garments that were well made and had an elevated feel but were still affordable to a broader market. It was also an opportunity to explore more colour and prints and just generally be more open to what materials and textiles are available locally. 

How would you describe the style you lean towards when creating clothing?

For Public Forum’s first collection, there was a kind of playful innocence that developed organically. I didn’t restrict myself to a certain aesthetic or ‘mood’ but rather let things take shape spontaneously. 

Tell us more about your launch collection.

The first collection is a love letter to a specific side of Johannesburg we’ve all come to know so fondly. It’s graffiti-inspired prints and jacaranda hues, hi-viz accents and taxi colour blocking.

As a brand insired by Joburg and its culture, how did you translate a city with wide cultural aspects into specific looks and pieces?

This is Johannesburg through my eyes, it’s not a definition but more of a collage of references that I collect naturally as I travel around the city. In the end, the collection is a feeling more than a literal translation. It’s the smell you get at the end of a late afternoon thunderstorm that unsettles all the dust, it’s the sound of traffic and public transport and it’s the hi-viz construction equipment that really vibrates against the grey concrete of the city. 

Tell us about the use of patterns, print and colour in some of the pieces – what inspired this?

The colours and prints developed naturally from my references and the available local textiles. I kept referring to Joburg as a source and I just couldn’t do that without venturing into colour and print. My favourite print is the Graffiti print which is so romantic and soft but also reminds me of all the wall art that the city is covered in and also a 90s bedspread. 

You’re also the founder of UNI FORM, a luxury womenswear brand. How do these two brands differ in style?

UNI FORM has a very uncompromising process whereas Public Forum is more relaxed in method, which allows a lower price point and makes for a different customer. I’m excited to gain new customers in addition to my UNI FORM ones and that was another factor in creating the brand initially. 

What more can we expect from the brand? 

I want to continue offering elevated design in a relaxed way so that it can remain accessible to its customer. I’m working on a line of good core pieces also, so that’s next.

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