Interview with Trip owner and designer Susan Didcott

susan didcott

Trip Handbags began in 2006, but has recently morphed into Trip Clothing & Accessories to incorporate a range of clothing, as well as the bags.  It is a small company based in Cape Town, South Africa run by owner and designer Susan Didcott. Trip handbags and clothing are of her own original design, she is inspired by beautiful fabrics and loves colour, with a natural leaning towards nostalgia (specifically, but not exclusively, South African), and retro design with simple, functional styling for everyday use.


All products are handmade and produced locally, in limited editions, by mostly women, to export quality standards. Susan feels passionately about keeping local skills alive and uses local materials wherever possible.

Trip garments are striking, yet wearable. They speak to those who are proud of their African heritage and want to flaunt it; and to those visitors that may have come and experienced something beautiful!

When did you launch Trip and how did it all get started?

I launched Trip Handbags & Accessories in 2006 after completing a Business Course through the Cape Chamber of Commerce. I had been making bags for some time already, and wanted to implement some of what I had learnt on the course, and ‘up my game’. I mostly launched Trip by exhibiting at Design Indaba Expo, which I then continued to do for quite a number of years. I also got selected by the CTFC for a year long business intervention they offered to a handful of designers.

I made mostly leather handbags, and some fabric bags, and a range of toiletry bags in vinyls. All of which I sold wholesale to various retail outlets around the country.

In 2014 I took up an opportunity to have a permanent stall in the new Watershed Market at the V&A Waterfront. By then the local market was feeling a bit flooded with handbag designers, so I was interested in introducing a range of African print clothing. I have slowly worked at the clothing over the last few years, using the Watershed as my testing ground. This year (2018) I will relaunch as Trip Clothing & Accessories, with the African print clothing and a slightly smaller range of bags.

Where do you draw your inspiration for your designs and aesthetic?

Much of my inspiration comes from a pure and unadulterated love of fabrics! The inspiration for the African print clothing certainly comes purely from a love of African print fabrics! I love the colours and the quirkiness of many of the prints (never mind the history of African prints!).

I am also inspired by beautiful design in any form, and I love to see beautiful, functional, well thought out objects take shape! I am inspired by the age-old skill of sewing and handcraft, and craftsmanship.

The fact that I was born to a very English mother, I think shaped some of my aesthetic, but I have blended it with my own South African upbringing, and at times my design certainly reflects the combination of the two.

I would say my aesthetic reflects me as an individual, in that my designs are often pretty classic, well made and functional.  I am not really a fan of ‘instant fashion’. But would rather see something beautifully made that has longevity in both its styling and its manufacture.

Do any of the designs of your products hold any significant meaning?

Not really, but I love to use references from my childhood /upbringing and combine them with South African references. For example combining smocking with African print fabric; or an elaborate cut out on a leather bag that has a local feel, but is inspired by Austrian paper cuts.

Walk us through the process of initial idea to finished product. Are all of your products produced locally?

Often an initial idea for something will be sparked by a particular material, but sometimes a particular shape just comes to mind.  I feel like I have obsessively made things for decades now, so I have no shortage of ideas of what I would like to be making next. However, many ideas do not turn into products, but just as many do!  I currently work very freely with my ideas, and let new designs come about as and when they do as opposed to thinking I must work on a new range, and doing a whole group of new designs that work together. Once I have an idea, I make the prototype, I generally do that myself, which is a treat as I love sewing. It gets tweaked until I am happy with it, I often wear, or use the item for a while to see whether all is as it should be. Finally I deliver my materials and patterns to the factory to have multiples made up. All the manufacturing is done in small / smallish factories around Cape Town.

What is your favourite design so far?

One of my favourite designs is probably a Smock Collar I made a few years back, although I have never quite worked out how to commercialise it?  I was actually embarking on another smocking project for an exhibition at Design Indaba, when the collar came about by accident. The reason I like it so much is the fact that it hints at being so many different things at once.  It looks something like a Victorian collar, and also a Zulu neck piece, and the smocking is such a Victorian reference, but the fact that the fabric is an African print puts it into the realm of being African.

Is there a shop where we can find your clothing and accessories?

The main outlet is the Trip Clothing & Accessories stand (F30) at the Watershed, Dock Rd, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town.


Fans flock to watch “Black Panther” dressed in African-inspired fashion


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Trip Clothing & Accessories are handmade in Cape Town with pride and are available both locally and internationally for immediate delivery. Browse our online store or come and visit us at the Watershed, The V&A Waterfront’s home of African craft and design. Contact us on +27 82 781 6793 or via email at

We create skirts, dresses, tops, head wraps, sweat tops, t-shirts, belts, shoppers, handbags, cosmetic purses and toiletry bags using African print, 100% cotton, denim, canvas, leather, and pu vinyls.

Email directly for wholesale pricing. Note that minimums do apply to wholesale orders.


Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Google+ for the latest news, tips and trends in African print fashion and design.

Picture: Design Indaba


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