26 October 2012 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

Fashion with roots

With the eye of an aspirant film-maker and the spirit of an environmentally conscious entrepreneur, Craig Cameron-Mackintosh, co-owner and founder of Hout Couture, knows the importance of the correct frame…

Hout Couture is a Cape Town-based business that makes sunglasses with wooden frames. Each pair is hand-made from responsibly sourced wood (mainly bamboo) and carved into a light, durable and stylish alternative to plastic frames.

Hout Couture is a proudly South African brand

The materials used and the ethos of the company combine to form a product that is a concrete metaphor for a particular way of seeing the world – one that values sustainability, environmental responsibility and sartorial savvy.

The brand’s strong local identity is encapsulated in the company's name ('hout' means wood in Afrikaans), and at the same time speaks to its international design appeal – that something special that turns a fashion trend into a classic accessory.

The materials used and the ethos of the company combine to form a product that is a concrete metaphor for a particular way of seeing the world – one that values sustainability, environmental responsibility and sartorial savvy.

The business started as a university project. When Craig Cameron-Mackintosh graduated from AFDA, where he specialised in scriptwriting and directing, he decided to give his creativity a solid business foundation, completing a postgraduate course in entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town

He’d seen a pair of wooden glasses frames in Naples during his gap year that had been hand-carved by an old Italian man he met. When he was given an assignment to use R50 capital to create an innovative product, that memory was the inspiration for Hout Couture.

Choose between black- and brown-tinted lenses

It soon became apparent that the glasses were a perfect fit for the growing trend in accessories made from natural products, making business, environmental and fashion sense. In just a few short months, the assignment (which he passed with flying colours) grew into a proudly South African business, which Craig now runs with his business partner, Chris Elliot.

The frames are precision-cut and then finished by hand. They come with the option of either brown or black polarised lenses. And while the company experiments with new styles all the time, the wood is the statement, and, as is always the case with great design, it pays to keep things simple. 

The latest Hout Couture range features different styles of frame

'Wood is beautiful, light and comfortable to wear, and if treated correctly, is just as durable as plastic,' says Craig. What’s more, every frame is as unique as the grain of the wood from which it’s made, so you’ll never find 2 pairs of Hout Couture glasses that are quite alike.

Although the frames are made from responsibly sourced wood, there are, of course, some components, like lenses and hinges, that can’t be made from wood, so giving back to nature is important. With this in mind, Hout Couture supports the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, which, in a literal way, helps make the world look a little better than it did before. 

In November, Hout Couture will launch its new website via www.houtcouture.com, showing off new woods and styles and featuring an online store.

Check out the awesome promotional video below – a fun summary of what the company is all about.

All images courtesy Hout Couture

Category: Arts & Entertainment


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