Kwena Baloyi hair photography series titled “Afrikan Krowns”

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Kwena Baloyi . Picture by Trevor Stuurman

For a long time the controversial issue of black women’s hair has been debated on mainstream media. Even though arguments continue as to whether it is correct or not to have relaxed hair and wear weaves and wigs, I am excited to see a shift in the narrative. The internet and social media are at the forefront in driving the story of “my hair, my crown”. I spoke to fashion stylist Kwena Baloyi, whose Instagram photography series of beautiful hairstyles celebrating black hair caught my eye.

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Kween Kwena. Picture by Nonzunzo Gxekwa 

Tell us about yourself? My friends and industry peers fondly call me “Kween Kwena”. I’m a vivacious, high-spirited and fun person (or so I’m told). I’m from Moletjie Ga-Makibelo in Limpopo. I’m a professional, on-demand TV, magazine and personal stylist. I’m also a fashion adventurist, who explores different clothes to come up with unique styles. I consider myself a fashion therapist because I help people find their fashion identity. I’m low-key obsessed with hair too.

Tell us about your interest in hair? Like every young woman I have come a long way with my hair.

Most of us, as black women, have had a contentious relationship with the kink in our coily hair and it’s been influenced by what society tells us is “acceptable”

I’ve been through that phase where my hair needed to be straight because I thought that was “appropriate”. My natural hair was called “untidy” or was not appreciated by those around me, so I thought it would be better to straighten or shave it. The older I got, the more I appreciated what my hair meant to me and what it represented to me as a woman in a society with so many negative connotations about African people’s hair. Now I wear my hair how I like because it’s an extension of who I am. It expresses my personality more than any item of clothing could.

CT TOTT Kwena pic 4Picture by Nonzunzo Gxekwa 

What inspired your social media hair photo series? Being a stylist affords me the opportunity to travel to different parts of the country and to meet many different characters. Each person I have met has always had an interesting aspect of their hair. Some stand out for being unique, while some simply intrigue me because they choose to be “regular” for the sake of fitting in. Experiencing this variety of people sparked the notion of how people relate to their “crown” – which is what your hair is essentially. You can choose to have it bold and in your face, or like other hairstyles considered “generic” or “normal”.

 

I’ve also been attracted to how different tribes around the continent wear their hair – particularly in West Africa.

There is a lot of documentation by history scholars and international artists about black people and their hair. The natives of Ugogo, whose hair traditions are exceptional, are one of a few. There are also the Fante women of Elmina (Edina) in Ghana, who had beautiful thick hair and their hairstyles were always so intricate and crafted to perfection. In fact, my current coiffure hairstyle is inspired by women in West Africa. The hairstyle was later made popular by our beloved mama Miriam Makeba. South Africa also has threading and plaiting techniques that are unique and allow us to express our personalities.

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Who is responsible for creating the beautiful hairstyles? My go-to stylist is Ncumisa “Mimi” Duma. She’s a talented hair magician and understands the importance of treating natural hair with care. Can you believe my hair has not seen a hair dryer or endured any artificial heat since I started growing it? It’s the healthiest my natural hair has been in ages!

Does your series have a title? Yes. It’s called “Afrikan Krowns”. We are each Afrikan and each have a Krown. Your Krown is an extension of who you are and an expression of your personality/character. The series looks at how each person chooses to wear their Krown with pride.

 

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Can you tell us what triggered your hair interest? This will sound so clichéd, but do you know the song I am not my hair, by India Arie? It’s always been one of my favourites jams, but it wasn’t until years after I heard it that I began to understand what she was really saying. Often as young girls we sing along to a song without really understanding what its purpose or message is. The way India describes her “hair story” in the first verse is how my hair chronicles kinda went. You start with whatever hair your parents decide you need to have. Then you become a little girl who does certain hairstyles because that’s what the school deems acceptable. From there you become a teenager, get influenced by pop culture and base your hairstyles on what’s “trending”. Then you become an adult and still get peer pressured into doing what your circle finds palatable. Eventually, your hair starts to fall out because you’ve either put way too many chemicals in it or braided it for too long or sewn on too many weaves.

How do you see natural hair empowering women? For me it says you’re slowly, but surely, getting to a point where society’s standards of beauty don’t define who you are. You no longer feel forced to relax your hair or wear a weave just because the expectation to have straight hair weighs you down.

You are ready to celebrate your hair and turn it into whichever shape of krown you desire because it’s an extension of who you are, but by no means defines who you are. In many ways, I hope black women feel free to be whoever they choose to be through their krowns.

Any last words? Women need to understand that the type of hair they choose to wear is not linked to who they are or who other people assume them to be. Whether you’re into braids, weave, wigs, fades, cheese kop, dreadlocks, afro, or anything else you find appealing, remember your hair is your krown.

No one can dictate what it should look like nor what it should mean to you. What matters is that you love it, nurture it and make the most of it.

 

*Connect with Kwena on Instagram: @kwenasays

Connect with me on Instagram @Nontando58 https://www.instagram.com/nontando58/?hl=en and find more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style

This piece was first published in the Top of The Times on June 9 2017

The designer who dresses the stars

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Media personality Bonang Matheba wears Orapuleng Modutle Style Avenue.

THE glamorous dresses worn by the likes of Bonang Matheba, Terry Pheto and Nandi Madida on red carpet events takes a lot of work.

They begin in the imagination of talented designers, who use celebrities as muses or brand ambassadors. South African couture designer Orapeleng Modutle is currently in the forefront when it comes to dressing some of our leading ladies for his label, Orapeleng Modutle Style Avenue.

“I get to dress some of the country’s top celebrities, an opportunity that is not afforded to many young designers,” says Modutle

“I have always wanted to dress Bonang Matheba because she is one of the best dressed red carpet queens. I have dressed all the celebrities that I have wanted to dress locally such as Ayanda Thabethe, Minnie Dlamini.

 

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Artist Nandi Madida

“The women that I dress form in line with the product that I deliver and they get attracted to the quality of the style that I deliver. It’s really knowing how to stick to your clientele and quality and craftsmanship is also very important,” he says.

“Internationally, I would love to dress Jennifer Lopez and Kendall Jenner.”

I met Modutle before his African Fashion International Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week Cape Town showcase.

The collection, titled “Rose Garden Wedding”, features subliminal gowns in sequins, chiffon, satin, structured corsets.

The designs are complemented by embellishments such as flowers, pearls, lace, feathers and hats by Anita Ferreira designs. The theme of the collection says

“Royalty is getting married and they have invited their elite family members and friends. The collection caters for the attendees, the mother of the bride and bridal party”. 

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Modutle said: “It’s a day of fun, people are wearing hats, butterflies on their hair and big gowns… taking couture to another level.

“Our previous collection was very playful, our clientele was very young, she wore crop tops and shorts.

“The couture fashion scene in SA still need to grow, we need to educate our clients about the design and production process, the craftsmanship and the behind-the scenes that goes into creating a couture garment.

“Some of my favourite international designers that I look up to for inspiration includes Tom Ford and Elie Saab and locally Gavin Rajah and Gert-Johan Coetzee are amazing at couture,”he says.

 

Modutle, the Tshwane University of Technology fashion graduate, developed his love for fashion and attention for details while watching his mother and grandmother do needle work.

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“I used to watch them hand stitching and that caught my attention from when I was about eight- years-old – that’s when I also developed my love for sketching.

“The first item I made in varsity was a pencil skirt, which took me a whole two weeks to make. My big break came when I interned with Khensani Nkosi of Stoned Cherie. That was an amazing experience and she is the pillar of where I am now.

“I learnt a lot about how she ran her business. She taught me that fashion is not all about the glitz and the glam,” he says.

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Describe the Orapeleng Modutle Style Avenue woman?

“She is between the ages of 20 and 60. She is a romantic. She exudes opulence and luxury. She is the kind of woman that will wear a pencil skirt with a slit paired with with a feather jacket to work,” he says.

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His advice for aspiring designers:

“You need to learn the skill of design, your talent is not enough. Once you know the skill get an internship. It’s very important because you will be working with other people who have been in the industry longer than you.”

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● Connect with Orapeleng Modutle Style Avenue on instagram @Orapelengmodutle.

Photography Credits: Creative direction: Rich Mnisi. Styling: Bee Diamondhead Photographer: Apart Verrips. Hats: Anita Ferreiradesigns. Make-Up Artist: Muzi Zuma. Flowers: Amor Flowers South Africa.

Connect with me on Instagram @Nontando58 https://www.instagram.com/nontando58/?hl=en

Read more of my work at http://www.IOL.co.za http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style

This piece was first published in Top of The Times on May 29 2017.

 

Lexus SA Menswear Week A/W’17

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Jenevieve Lyons, Collection name: de-frag-mented (undated) picture by  by Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Africa’s only menswear-focused fashion showcase, the fifth edition of the Lexus SA Menswear Week, took place this month at The Palms in Woodstock. I chatted to three designers whose work was among those that stood out, about their collections and inspiration.

Jenevieve Lyons (South Africa)

Collection name: de-frag-mented (undated)

Tell us about the concept behind your collection? The collection was an amalgamation of my two previous collections: Macula Autumn/Winter 2016 and Deferential Spring/Summer 2017.Both these collections carry immense relevance internationally , allowing us to showcase Macula Autumn/Winter 2016 in Helsinki, in Finland, at the end of last year.We felt that a revisit would be pertinent, thus seeing the opportunity for de-frag-mented to arise as a collection.The collection was therefore presented in the manner of an artistic installation showcasing a concise, five-look collection featuring all the campaign models from our previous two collections.They were initially disguised behind a stocking, which was later cut open to reveal their faces, and this was intended to tell a visual parable to intrigue fashion-lovers, compelling them to think, wonder and ponder about the reasoning and also reminisce along with us, all three stories in one.

How important is Fashion Week for you? The mission of our brand is to tell parables through our fashion – to take it so much further than just clothes.As a South African designer uniting to build our industry and African fashion’s identity; and to pull this clichéd identity of “ethnic” and print to a more modernistic view that can be placed next to an international brand and be understood globally.So the importance of realising cultural, social, political and environmental issues within a fashion context to educate and build renewed perspectives on the African fashion industry is imperative.

Where do you go to seek artistic inspiration? I am aware of my surroundings at all times – politically, socially, news-driven, culturally – all in all to be tapped into the zeitgeist every day, at every moment. I find inspiration in organic places.I will experience or witness something or someone that will spark interest, and this interest links up within my fashion forecasting stream.

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Nicholas Coutts  picture by  by Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

 

Nicholas Coutts (South Africa)

Tell us about your A/W17 collection you presented at the Lexus SA Menswear Week? For this collection, I drew inspiration from South Africa’s diverse culture combined with a strong 1970s influence.I aimed to create fresh and dynamic garments that the contemporary man can wear while making a subtle impact.There are glimpses of metallic touches of texture running through the collection. The colours give a warm and happy atmosphere, and sophisticated tailoring.

My collaboration with House of Grace design (macrame bags) and milliner Crystal Birsch for the hats added a vibrant and innovative mood which energised the collection.Styling for the collection was by Peter Georgiades. He brought a fresh approach to the styling and another point of view to the collection.It was important for me to collaborate this season to empower both myself and those that I collaborated with.

What were the first steps you took in the fashion world? My interest in fashion was sparked from an early age. I come from a creative family who have been supportive in my career from the beginning.After studying fashion design for three years, I worked learning different aspects of fashion industry before starting my own brand.

What is it like working for yourself and who is your dream client? I work with a pattern maker and a seamtress, and it’s quite lonely sometimes. It’s challenging as I have to do it all, from PR to overseeing garment construction to designing. However, in the end, the final product is very rewarding.

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  Mai Atafo Atalier (Nigeria)

Collection name: Me

Tell us about your Lexus SA Menswear AW’17 showcase? Me is a collection that describes my journey from when I was 19 years to this present day. In my early years, hand-downs from my siblings and shopping second-hands because one couldn’t afford cool new clothes made up my wardrobe.Added to this was my need to stand out by reinventing these pieces through reconstructing or sometime deconstructing them.Hand print by Dricky_ helps tell a literal story (my first fashion collaboration). The base of all this was my love for denim, velvet, corduroy (ridged velvet) suede and camouflage print.

I also used houndstooth (a pattern with notched corners suggestive of a canine tooth) which I consider to be the most technical check pattern, which could be fun and serious at the same time.Tie and dye for character and the obvious knitwear just because it’s Autumn/Winter and Verraomo is amazing as she knits herself.

In the past few years, my love for tuxedos led to a path where I can respect the dress-code and also give it twist, which is subtly visible by the velvet taping on the trousers matching the jacket fabric (velvet) rather than the conventional trouser tapping matching the lapel of the tuxedo jacket.

Not to forget the smoking jacket with our trademark shawl peck lapel (like all the tuxedos in the collection) with houndstooth trousers rather than the traditional tartan checks.

“For once, the collection wasn’t about predicting consumer trends but one that’s truly me and what I love”

The fashion industry is very competitive. What sets your brand apart?As bespoke tailor and fashion designer, what sets me apart is fine tailoring, fit, quality and ability to create garments that incorporate this with edge and fashion forward design, which sets us apart.

This piece was first published in the Cape Times arts and lifestyle supplement Top of The Times on February 17 2017.

See more of my work at : http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style/fashion/menswear-revisited-7804232

Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter @Nontando58 

 

SA Menswear Week, highlights so far.

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A Chulaap by Chu Suwannapha design  showcased at Season 1. Photo by SIMON DEINER/SDR

Seeing a gap in the fast-growing category of menswear, fashion photographer Simon Deiner and businessman Ryan Beswick developed a platform that is now responsible for promoting menswear designers in Africa. Entering its fifth season, the LEXUS SA Menswear Week (Lexus SAMW AW’17) is the only menswear-focused fashion week on the continent.

Over the past four seasons, we have had an opportunity to witness some of the best in menswear by both emerging and established designers from around Africa, some of whom have gone on to gain international exposure. Rich Mnis, Jenevieve Lyons, Chu Suwannapha, Craig Jacobs, Orange Culture and Laduma Ngxokolo are now recognised internationally.
My highlights include the debut range of Chulaap by Chu Suwannapha showcased at season one. The styling, design and the prints show Suwannapha’s artistic aesthetic and his love for the colourful African continent.

Lukhanyo Mdingi’s androgynous collection of dark navy, blue and black made up of sheer silk and denim separates from season two remain fresh in my mind. The range brought forth the growing trend of gender-fluid fashion. The collaboration of Adriaan Kuiters and Jod Paulsen (AKJP) from season three showed that a meeting of two creative minds can lead to magic.

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A design by Lukhanyo Mdingi. Picture by : SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
For Deiner, there have been many highlights: “I remember the first season where we did a team photo at the end and there were about 50 people involved. And when we took the group photo at the SS17 collections last July we had just over 150 people in the pic. “Other highlights have been watching our young designers shine and grow into proper household names and along the way start businesses. I have also enjoyed seeing how men in general now perceive the concept of wearing locally made clothing as something they are proud to do,” Deiner says.
A lot of hard work and dedication are necessary for a designer to stand out from a saturated industry competing against cheap imports and fast fashion. Funding, production and affordable and quality fabrics are just some of the challenges that our young designers are facing, which play a hand in preventing them from maintaining profitable businesses.
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Kim Gush by SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
Kim Gush, owner and designer of Kim Gush apparel, adds: “I think local consumers still love to compare designers to big retailers, especially where price is concerned. We are still constantly faced with the snub at our price tags… consumers forget that the items aren’t mass produced, therefore you are receiving a unique piece. And at the same time you are supporting our local manufacturing industry – which to be honest, needs every tiny purchase to try to revive it.
“Buying local means you are helping in developing and bringing our industry to those ‘international’ levels you so dearly desire as well as keeping jobs going,” she says. “Take the time to get to know all those brands you watch at fashion week. A lot of people are just there for the social, but they forget the heart and soul that goes into every garment presented, the dreams the designers have for this industry to flourish,” she says. 
For Suwannapha, who will not be showcasing at Lexus SAMW AW’17, the fabrication and the manufacturing are problematic. “Hopefully, some of the courier companies will work with fabrics agencies towards bringing fabrics to minimal costs, or I might have to live with the high labour costs as long as I’m producing in South Africa,” he says. “(This year) is all about expanding and building my brand. Collaboration will be a part of my brand’s personality, which will be coming soon and will be available online in South Africa,” Suwannapha says.
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The collaboration of Adriaan Kuiters and Jod Paulsen from season three. Picture: SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
One of the youngest showcasing designers, Mzukisi Mbane of Imprint, adds: “When it comes to fashion week, I think we all take away what we want from it.“The fashion week benefits should always extend beyond the applause after a runway show. For instance, you get an opportunity to sell yourself to a wide audience that you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. “After my first runway show, I got invited to go to Ghana then Nigeria… I was instantly not just a South African brand, but a recognised African brand,”says Mbane.
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A Imprint by Mzukisi Mbane design. Picture by SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
On what to expect at his showcase next week: “The collection is based on a fictional character I created. It’s an Ndebele man who decided to leave home and travel the world.
“The collection includes a lot of colour, oversized silhouettes, genderfluid pieces. Which is truly the Imprint Afro futuristic aesthetic… it expresses a free spirit which challenges made-up perfection. “As the collection is titled “I couldn’t be bothered”, one will take away whatever they want from the collection… and that will be okay,” he adds.
LEXUS SA Menswear Week will take place at The Palms in Woodstock on February 3 and 4 2017.
Tickets are available at http://www.webtickets.co.za.For a full schedule see : http://www.menswearweek.co.za/
See more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style

Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter: @Nontando58 https://www.instagram.com/nontando58/?hl=en

This piece was first published in the Weekend Argus (Sunday) on January 29 2017. 

Living in colour…

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I took up the Fruit of the Loom South Africa “colour blocking challenge” with Zando and this is what I came up with. What do you guys think? I styled their t-shirts by wearing all four in one…I bet you haven’t seen basic t-shirts styled in this way before;-) The blue lipstick is from M.A.C .

Summer is here Fashionistas and it’s time to stand out in colourful clothing. I love colour and prints, no matter what the season is. From bright lipsticks to clothing and sneakers…gimme, gimme colour any day!!!

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#NontandoWoreWhat The mandarin jacket is a Nontando original (yes, I design my own clothes. Look out for my label soon)

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Credits: Pictures are by Khuthii @Khuthii on Instagram.

Location: The beautiful Lourensford Estate

Connnect with me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @Nontando58

 

 

A/W17 Fashion Inspo

The warm weather of summer is just on the horizon and many of us are focused on what we’ll be wearing to keep cool. But there are those who have gone beyond that and determined the fashion trends for Autumn/Winter’17.

Chunky knits, wide-leg pants, off-the-shoulder garments, double denim, leather, metallics and the sexy slip dress were just some of the strong, wearable trends to come from SA Fashion Week (SAFW) held in Joburg recently.
I break down these top trends and suggest how best you wear them.

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Brand: Afrikanswiss

1. Double Denim: This has been trending for a while and is not going anywhere. The key here is to pair similar shades of denim to avoid a major fashion faux pas. Afrikanswiss presented a number of denim-on-denim looks which included low crotch denim pants, dungarees, shirts and jackets that can be worn as separates or layered. Wear it as a daytime street-style look with sneakers or pair it with heels or pumps for a sophisticated look.

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Brand: Atelier Dajee

2. Metallics: Metallic hues that look like they are straight out of a sci-fi movie are hot for summer and the winter months. The attention-grabbing fabric in metal or gold are available in skirts, sneakers, jackets or as a dress, such as this metallic dress by Atelier Dajee. In summer pair it with equally shiny accessories for a playful disco look or tone it down in winter by pairing it with with wool, denim or chiffon.

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Brand: Clive Rundle

3. The Cold- Shoulder: Just because it’s cold it won’t mean that you will have to cover every inch of skin. There is something elegant about bare shoulders for both summer and the colder winter months. Clive Rundle’s layered cape dress is perfect for showing a little skin while still keeping warm. Whether in tops, tees or dresses, just about anyone can pull off the off-the-shoulder look. Dainty necklaces that rest on the collarbone will finish this sexy look.

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Brand: Colleen Eitzen

4. Slip Dress: The slip dress trend is picking up speed. Classic and seductive, this dress that almost resembles an underslip is versatile depending on your mood. Colleen Eitzen v-neck dress comes in soft lines that will rest on your feminine curves. The fabrics are often flimsy for winter, so you might want to wear the dress with an ankle-length coat or bomber jacket for a casual look.

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Brand: Esnoko

5. Colour: Even the dark and cold of winter calls for splashes of colour to brighten up a day. From saturated earth colours to pastel hues, such as this Esnoko double-breasted coat and pants, don’t be afraid to pair clashing colours.

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Brand: Heart and Heritage

6. Chunky knits: Forget the cardigan and skinny scarves. Cosy, chunky knits will be winter’s must-have accessories. This luxurious scarf by  Heart and Heritage can be worn with just about anything, from a suit to a sweater dress.

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Brand:  Mieke

7. Wide-legged pants: Vintage wide-leg trousers, especially high-waisted pants are classic and elegant. The wider silhouettes come in Culottes, which are just below the knee, or at ankle length, such as these pants by Mieke . Styling these pants can be tricky so keep it simple with a tucked shirt that will accentuate your figure or a crop top for an edgy look. Heels look better with long, wide-legged pants, while flats can be worn with those at below-the-knee length.

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Brand: Vintage Zionist

8. Leather: One can never go wrong with a tailored leather or faux leather garment. This Vintage Zionist jumpsuit is both rebellious and chic. Paired with flats and a beanie, this look is party ready and will work as daytime chic.

All images are by SA Fashion Week: http://www.safashionweek.co.za/

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on October 7 2016. 

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat: @Nontando58. 

 

Iintsizwa Ziphelele

PICTURE: UBUNTU

All pictures are by Ubuntu: Iintsizwa Ziphelel co-founder  Mogomotsi Magome and I. 

Quirky, quality clothing that celebrates the arts and the African culture and heritage is what the Iintsizwa Ziphelele brand is all about. Based in the vibrant and energetic township of Pimville in Soweto, Joburg, the label launched in 2006 and is recognised as one the coolest and oldest streetwear brands.

I meet co-owner Mogomotsi Magome  at their studio/factory early on a Monday morning as the township comes to life. The studio facing the street is a kaleidoscope of colour, displaying t-shirts , headwear, jackets and shirts in mixed prints and fabrics. Chatting over a breakfast of puffy amangwinya (vetkoek) and polony, Magome tells me that Iintsizwa Ziphelele, which loosely translated means Brotherhood, is a story of brothers united by their love for fashion and the arts.

PICTURE: UBUNTU

PICTURE: UBUNTU

Magome and his friend and business partner Mthunzi Nkosi met when they were studying at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT).

“We were studying things that had nothing to do with fashion. I was doing operational management and Nkosi was doing management services… very corporate stuff. We got involved in the arts such as poetry and over time an idea about having a clothing line came about and it wasn’t just him and I at the time, there were other friends involved,” he explains.

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“The idea was to create a clothing label that we could identify with, away from mainstream and retail clothing. Mostly because we were in the arts and working with musicians and artists, we wanted to create a brand that people can identify with… an African brand but not your typical African. A blend of African prints mixed with modern styles and fabrics,” says Magome. 

Their signature t-shirts display cool graphics telling stories of African traditions, such as their popular t-shirt with the word “Lobola” on it. This in many African cultures, such as in the Zulu and Xhosa nations, is a price paid by the groom to the bride’s family before marriage.

“The name ‘Iintsizwa Ziphelele’ represents the principles of a brotherhood,” says Magome.

“When we were in tertiary, for a lot of us it was unchartered territory and for us to survive we had to stick together as a collection of friends. There has always been a necessity to keep brothers around, help each other to survive socially and otherwise. That bond that we formed gave birth to Iintsizwa Ziphelele and it has been like that ever since,” he says..

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“In the beginning we were just printing t-shirts using a small one-colour screen printing machine, the most basic method of printing that you can use, in a garage. Back then the trend was to print political icons such as Steve Biko on t-shirts, it was about what was happening on the streets and people wanted to see that.

“As time went on we worked with graphic designers to create different kinds of images. It’s a big jump from where we were, we have now moved beyond t-shirts and are creating a variety of things,” says Magome.

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Although the brand primarily produces menswear they also have a handful of women’s t-shirts and bucket hats on offer. During my visit I styled their menswear collection for their summer look-book. Their pieces, such as the camouflage shirt and sleeveless bomber jackets work as unisex pieces.

‘’The printed images on our clothing speak about life in the townships and homelands, and represent our daily reality as black peoples no matter where we are in the world. The brand celebrates Ubuntu and the last remnants of our cultures, post apartheid,” says Nkosi, who I interviewed later.

“Through the clothing we get to tell our stories. Fashion has played a role in defining people and eras, telling tales of different generations from the 1600s to the 80’s and now post slavery. We are inspired by the rich history that our country tells, the unique nation of this world – in fashion, music, languages and the different cultural exchanges that come from the different ethnic groups,” he says.

PICTURE: UBUNTU

PICTURE: UBUNTU

From humble beginnings to now having a fully functional mini factory at the back of their studio boasting the latest technology in printing, sewing and embroidery machines, the duo now employs young graduates and offer their services to other brands and organisations.
Not only is their clothing popular in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Joburg, they also have clients overseas.

“The business is funding itself. What we did is to try and create a business model that can sustain the brand. The machines that we use to produce our brand, we also use them to produce printing services to other brands;

A lot of young brands get killed because it’s not that easy to get out there and make as many sales as possible and produce again. We had to find some innovative way of making it work,” Magome explains.

PICTURE: UBUNTU

PICTURE: UBUNTU

 

“Obviously growth is inevitable. Three years from now we should be in every corner of the country in department stores;

One of the business’s primary objectives is to create jobs for our people and play our part in this country’s economic growth, not only by enriching ourselves but by building our community here in Soweto,” adds Nkosi.

 

PICTURE: UBUNTU

PICTURE: UBUNTU

 

Connect with Iintsizwa Ziphelele on:

Facebook: Iintsizwa Ziphelele
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This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on October 3 2016. Find me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat: @Nontando58