OUR STORY

"EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES MAKING FEWER PRODUCT, BETTER"

Research Unit Studio is a Ready-to-Wear and Travel Goods brand based in Cape Town, South Africa. Our products are designed through careful use and balance of materials, considering each form and it's function with acute attention to detail. We make a superior quality product with a shared adherence to purist principles and a passion for good design. We believe that innovation, good design and very fine craftsmanship go hand-in-hand.

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EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES AND SUSTAINABILITY 

We believe that sustainability should permeate all aspects of our business, from the materials we use to the people we employ to the communities we support. We are committed to passing on our skills and knowledge and provide in-house training to all our staff. Many of our hugely capable artisans originally come from disadvantaged communities and benefit from the ongoing training and we are committed to up-skilling them from scratch as well as work with various communities around South Africa to continue the creation of jobs and skills.

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CRAFTSMANSHIP

Research Unit celebrates the journey that each item makes through the hands of our skilled artisans to the various adventures in the hands of our loyal customers as they journey each day across cities and continents. Although we’d love our loyal customers to own one of every carefully considered item we make, we also believe that fewer things, made better, can be treasured for a lifetime, We observe the age-old traditions of Japanese craftsmanship, for each of our 100% South African-made items, while applying modern technology and design sensibility to create products we trust are built to last for generations.

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OUR MISSION 

Our mission is to empower more communities by working with them on continuous projects to create high-end, sustainable goods.

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ZERO WASTE

Research Unit has a zero waste policy in it's production process, whereby every part of the skin is used after our main products have been produced, either making tiny key chains and small accessories from the off cuts and when pieces become too small to become a product, we use the leather as soil coverage for plants. This is also done with our textile usage. Nothing is tossed. 

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THE FOUNDERS

Research Unit was established in 2011 by husband-and-wife team Erin-Lee and Chad Petersen.  The multiple-award-winning creative duo have had an innovative approach to business from the very start, raising their initial capital from the sale of a new iPhone they took out with a 24-month mobile phone contract when no formal institutions would support, whilst working in luxury retail for several years.  Research Unit is now a well-established, vertically integrated company, Erin-Lee and Chad believe that sustainability should permeate all aspects of business, from the materials used to the people who make them and by extension of the communities they support, to the life of the product. 

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WHY RESEARCH UNIT? 

Long before beginning their business venture, Erin-Lee and Chad used YouTube back in 2011 to research all their leather industry techniques, i.e Hand-stitching, hand-dying, polishing etc. Some 5000 Japanese leather craft YouTube videos later, only watched in their spare time, they attained enough knowledge and had done thorough research to begin their own business and begin to teach unskilled people to make superior goods. To this day, they continue to use research to design and develop products from material usage to the people hand-making their goods.

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QUALITY

We only use the highest quality, ethically sourced materials including our vegetable-tanned leathers from a family run facility in Kwa-Zulu Natal, organic 100% cotton canvas, basket-weaving from natural fibres and 100% wool hand-weavers. Although we take particular care of the very finest details, we allow our leathers and fabrics to determine the final outcome, leaving any naturally occurring ‘perfect imperfections’ to form part of the finished product in an aesthetically pleasing and organic way. Due to this approach, and the handmade nature of our products, we celebrate the slight variations in finish that occur. For this reason, each of our products is authentic and slightly unique. Our vegetable tanned leather is dyed from vegetable tannins during a long process and leathers are a bi-product of the meat industry in South Africa, therefore not sourced only for the purpose of it's skin.

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OUR PROMISE

Quality, integrity and reliability: superior quality craftsmanship and ethically sourced materials.