The story behind the name non-european® is set in politically troubled South Africa in the 1970’s…
The brand was first labelled non-european® in 2008, deriving its name from an experience Elizabeth had during her very first visit to Europe where for the first time ever she had to stand in the ‘Non-European’ queue… [READ MORE]
Elizabeth (Tarien’s teacher and mentor & co-founder of the non-european brand) grew up in the Northern Cape in the Apartheid era. She was labelled ‘European’ (after a country she never knew) because of her fair skin. Her best friend was labelled ‘Non-european’ because of her dark skin. This posed a lot of problems for the two friends who could not be together in public places.
The pain she felt from a young age and also later in her life; was that she was not seen as African. “I felt that I never knew my own identity, nor understood it.”
At the age of 40 Elizabeth had the opportunity to visit Europe (the country she was named after but never knew) for the very first time in her life. “As I stood in that ‘Non-European’ queue at the airport, I felt overwhelming joy. I was so happy, I was thinking: YES! I am NON-EUROPEAN; I belong in Africa! I am Non-European; I have a green Identity Book. I am South African at last!”
This experience provided her with such liberation and joy; it birthed the dream of a range called ‘Non-European’ in her heart.
Being in education at that stage, Elizabeth did not have the time to design and bring out ranges. She therefore decided to pass the concept on to one of her graduates, Tarien Malherbe.
“From memories and heritage into the future: The youth of today do not link a political archetype to non-european®. Their understanding of the brand name is ‘True-South African’, ‘original - not-copied’, which is wonderful because the brand’s aim is to build a new South African identity.”
Why the tree logo
The Tree Logo is a symbol of life, heritage and grit inspired by the camel-thorn-tree of the Northern Cape. [read more]
As a child Elizabeth (Tarien’s teacher and mentor & co-founder of the non-european® brand) spent many days playing and being educated under a camel-thorn-tree. Being the only tree that could survive and provide shade in the semi-desert landscapes of the Northern Cape where she grew up, this tree played an important part in every aspect of her community’s lives.
Elizabeth explains that she “absolutely loved the tree, even though there was the constant pricking of the thorns”. To her, this feeling was metaphoric of the absolute love she felt for her homeland, despite the constant pain and struggle in her heart due to South Africa’s political situation at that time.
“This pain is part of our modern context and a healthy reminder that the victories of yesterday are in the past and we must walk in the present to overcome the future.”
The landscapes of the Northern Cape where Elizabeth spent her childhood being educated under a camel-thorn-tree and watching drive-in silver screen movies under starry skies, still inspire non-european® designers Louis and Tarien Erasmus (née Malherbe) today. Both being firmly rooted in Africa; their heritage sets the tone for non-european®’s design style.
The non-european family
“We believe non-european is an expression of the elegant simplicity of the African continent and its people. We believe that each individual is created with a unique calling and purpose that adds value to the community they form part of. And we are inspired to use creative skill as a means to empower and encourage individuals”
non-european® is The Original South African Heritage Fashion Brand, inspired to use creative skill as a means to empower and encourage individuals.
This ethical fashion business has been focussing on sustainable growth since 2008, while providing permanent employment and skills development in the South African economy. Making a difference to the continent and its people through job creation is where it all started and remains the driving force behind the brand.
The non-european® studio and in-house production facility is based in Cape Town, South Africa. And the names of all the people whose hands have held your garment is printed on the garment label inside the product.
“From us to you with love ~ We find pleasure in our work and we hope to encourage you with the work of our hands”
The non-european design style
“Our commitment is to create elegant classic styles from the highest quality raw materials we can source locally. We believe there is a limitless supply of inspiration in the land and the legend of South Africa and draw inspiration from the landscape and colours of the African continent..”
Designers Louis & Tarien Erasmus express their unique South African heritage in limited runs of timeless designs with a strong focus on cut & fit. Their commitment to tirelessly invest in those on whose account the brand succeeds, is seen in the meticulous design and fine craftsmanship born from their hard work and commitment to excellence. Their versatile stylish designs have become a favourite to the discerning individual who wants to look good and feel comfortable! Designing with sustainability as a guiding philosophy is inseparable from their work and is expressed in every aspect of non-european®.
“non-european® is an Authentically African brand, loyal to the unique natural quality, simplicity, and elegance of our continent and its people.”
What started as a dream became an opportunity for Tarien which she & Louis (and their 4 kids) would invest their entire lives into and so, with hard work and grit a brand was built from a dream… [READ MORE]
non-european®, was a dream in the heart of Elizabeth and started as a collaboration between Elizabeth, founder of the Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion Design (EGAFD), her husband Gideon Malherbe and young graduate Tarien Malherbe.
Tarien’s strong desire to excel in whatever she committed to is rivalled only by her desire to create. She had always been a top performer in every task that she committed to and with this reputation and several distinctions she was sure to make the most of any opportunity.
She earned a number of accolades during her studies at EGAFD and by the time she finished her studies, Tarien was showcasing on all the major South African Fashion Weeks.
Guided by the desire to create jobs and with the leverage Elizabeth provided - Tarien was able to use the money from each dress sold to make another. This set the brand on a path of sustainable growth and remains one of the guiding philosophies of non-european®.
Accepting responsibility for the dream was only the first step but it would take years of hard work, persistent perseverance, and an unwavering commitment to excellence for this dream to take shape.
At the end of 2010, Tarien met Louis; got married 6 months later and the two started working together full time a year after that. This could have been the start of a convoluted story, but it was the start of a story of faith, hope and love that would result in the birth of non-european (Pty) Ltd in May of 2013.
During his formative year Louis responded to a call to draw a picture of himself by drawing a large tree and explained that, like the tree, he wants to be “a place of safety and provision to others”. This resolve became the legacy they both desire for their company and nation.
VISION - non-european® aspires to provide individuals with a platform to be who they were created to be.
MISSION - non-european® is a True African fashion brand inspired to use creative skill as a means to empower and encourage individuals.
- Acting in love
- Ethical terms of trade (a call to respond to our responsibility towards our group, our community, our society)
- A voice to unite (bridging the gap between ages, people groups, cultures, and individuals)
This is our story.
It isn’t a perfect story.
But it is the beginning of something beautiful…
Deep-rooted in the dust of Africa ~
Our story is set to the song of children’s laughter
& resounds like a beating drum.
This is our commitment:
To tirelessly invest
in those on whose account we succeed,
so they in turn may help those who are in need.
For we are not race,
but human being.
We are non-european
and we’re designing a different reality.
We’re setting a new trend.
Join us as we re-write this story ~
One life at a time.
By buying into this brand
You’re placing power into your people’s hand:
Like raindrops that gratify barren land
Your money comes to be the very fibres of a garment
that satiates the parched economy of a promised land.
This is Your story.
It isn’t a perfect story.
But it is the beginning of something beautiful…