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OOver the past few years, contemporary fashion design in South Africa has simply exploded. Rather than following overseas trends, local designers are looking inward and making important creative statements about what it means to be fashionably South African.
More and more designers are emerging on the scene and offering more choice than ever when it comes to affordable, local, trendy design.
During the apartheid era, South African fashion design lagged behind trends in the rest of the world. In a way, this was beneficial, as it forced local designers to create their own aesthetics without being overly influenced by what was happening in the rest of the world.
Since becoming a democratic nation in 1994, contemporary fashion designers in South Africa have regained a sense of pride. With that has come a renaissance of creativity.
There was a time when South Africans had very little to choose from when it came to contemporary South African fashion design. Chain stores seemed to offer sedate and rather bland clothing and didn’t offer many opportunities for local fashion designers.
Eventually fashion retailers like Woolworths (not to be confused with the British Woolworths brand, which targets a less affluent market) grasped that local consumers wanted more choice that was affordable, fashionable and locally made. This led to the upmarket South African chain introducing ranges from Craig Native, Stoned Cherrie and Maya Prass into its shops, putting its support behind local design.
Since Young Designers Emporium (almost always abbreviated to YDE in fashion-speak) opened its doors 1995, paving the way for fashion designers to showcase and sell their wares, many others have followed suit.
Soweto-based fashionistas Wandi Nzimande and Sechaba Mogale started Loxion Kulca (LK) in 1999. They were arguably the first local fashion designers to bring the fashion style of South Africa’s townships to the mass market.
Franchises like The Space sell only contemporary local fashion from designers as diverse as Leigh Schubert, Tart, Sway, Michelle Ludek, Coppelia and Amanda Laird Cherry. Big Blue is another contemporary fashion design retailer that sells fun and affordable South Africa fashion.
Boutiques Just, Me Me Me, and Mungo and Jemima also stock only local fashion designers. Many designers such as Marion and Lindie, Hermanna Rush, Hip Hop, David Tlale and Black Coffee have their own standalone shops and studios.
Each year, LISOF, South Africa’s leading fashion design school, produces more talented people to contribute to the ever-growing and exciting fashion design landscape in South Africa.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)12 342 0069
Maya Prass Clothing
Tel: +27 (0)21 447 3883
Stoned Cherrie [Awaiting confirmation]
Young Designers Emporium
Tel: +27 (0)21 460 2500