Did you know?
Materials used in local textile designs include ostrich skins and feathers, crocodile hides and the ubiquitous Nguni cow skin.
South African textile design is currently riding a wave of 'new nostalgia', with springbok horns, rural huts, proteas and city maps in vibrant pop art prints popping up everywhere.
South African textile designers often make use of local resources. Current trends include a revival in traditional felt, cotton and silk designs. Vegetable fibres, mostly from flax and hemp, leather and PVC synthetic raw materials also provide creative inspiration.
Empowerment and job creation remains an important factor in the industry, as many major textile design companies and smaller entrepreneurs share their skills in order to uplift poorer rural communities.
The art of 'upcycling', referring to the re-imagining of waste products into high value items, is also a prominent feature of the industry in the wake of the global green movement. Think glass Coca Cola bottle chandeliers or couture handbags made of plastic bags.
A prime example of this is design duo So Kiff (the word kiff is a South Africanism for something cool or great). So Kiff repurposed defunct advertising billboards and polystyrene cut-offs to make beanbags – but with an ironic twist. From fabrics with iconic Zoo Biscuit prints to gumboot dancers, they're the perfect example of where South African textile design is headed.
Laduma Ngxokolo, dubbed the 'Cashmere Xhosa' by Elle Magazine South Africa, is another prime example. His knitwear, inspired by traditional Xhosa beadwork, won the national leg of the South African Society of Dyers and Colourists Design Competition, earning him a trip to London where he was awarded first prize in the international design competition.
Famous for her rock cushions, Ronel Jordaan has experienced design success with her woollen pebbles and rocks in earth-inspired colours, felt throws and table runners modelled on interconnected leaves and branches creating modern African design iconography.