Jo’burg designers shine at Cape Town fashion week

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

When the “township princess” steps out of her shack she looks like a million bucks.

That’s what Johannesburg-based fashion designer Thula Sindi had to say about the inspiration for his latest women’s wear range for spring/summer. Sindi showed his range at Cape Town fashion week which wrapped up at the weekend.

The four-day event started last Wednesday night with a gala dinner and ended with men’s wear ranges on Saturday night.

Thula was one of two Johannesburg-based designers who stole the limelight at what was a scaled down event from previous years. This year’s event had no buyer’s lounge where designers showcase their work to prospective clients.

There were also no business panels or industry talks. Even celebrities were thin on the ground. But the clothes did the talking, and so did the designers.

Sindi marched forth with his bold bling and political statements. He looked to the country’s poorest citizens for fashion inspiration for his latest collection of women’s wear.

Sindi’s show opened with photographs of the Johannesburg skyline and township scenes. As with previous shows, the music is his show was energetic and overpowering.

“It is inspired by what I call a township princess. Some of my cousins are that girl. She’s a Jo’burg girl. She lives in hardship but when she leaves the house she looks a million bucks. She’s got a street edge and she’s still very feminine,” said Sindi of his collection.

“She loves her big earrings and cap. She has a street edge. I just made her more refined. She doesn’t give a damn and she’s stylish.”

He added: “The adversity is what pushes her forward. Most people who live in comfort are very self-conscious. She’s not. She doesn’t give a damn what the country club or mall thinks of her. She lets her clothes do the talking.”

Sindi said showing in Cape Town was vital for him as most of his sales – at least 40% thereof – were in this city. But the Cape Town market, he said, was less interested in showing off their clothes like their Johannesburg counterparts.

“We don’t see a lot of the township princesses in Cape Town. Capetonians want to conceal wealth but in Jo’burg we want to look glamourous and celebrate ourselves,” said Sindi.

Another Johannesburg-based fashion designer David Tlale had private buses transport guests onto the city’s landmark unfinished highway on Eastern Boulevard in the city centre’s Foreshore. Tlale also changed direction at this year’s event by showing a men’s wear collection.

“I’m excited and nervous but above all grateful to God for this perfect weather,” he said ahead of his.

God – or good luck – was certainly on his side as for a few days just before his show on Saturday the city has been miserably cold, wet and windy. Men’s clothes in colours based on semi-precious stones shimmered in the winter sun.

Tlale said he showed no women’s wear at this show because his business was growing in other areas.

“People know us for women’s wear. We have thrown in men’s wear from time to time. But the brand is growing and soon we will cater for children,” said Tlale.

Other designers who showed their spring/summer collections included Rauld Rheeder, Stefania Morland as well as labels Non European, Loin Cloth & Ashes and Tart. The event was organised by African Fashion International.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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