Top 10 South African Fashion Designers
African fashion has for the past years earned popularity in most of western countries and beyond. This is as a result of how unique the prints and fabrics of the clothes are. This is one of the reasons that has kept African culture alive. All this is as a result of the effort that designers have put in place to ensure that they can secure a position in the world of fashion. The efforts of these humans cannot go without appreciation.
These are by far the best South African designers who are setting the pace in the industry.
Amanda Laird Cherry
Amanda Laird Cherry is a much loved South African fashion label that produces beautiful apparel for both women and men. Durban based designer Amanda studied clothing design and gained ample experience in the industry before launching her own label. Her items have been exhibited at London Fashion Week and can be found in The Space stores nationwide as well as online at SPREE.
Michelle Ludek is another icon in the list of the richest fashion designers in South Africa. The latter has a history in North America where she earned her skill in commercial fashion design. Her style stands out as it varies from netty sweaters to lazy shift dresses. She is more into the chic kind of style.
Nkhensani Nkosi (Stoned Cherrie)
Stoned Cherrie was established in 2000 and has, since then, become one of the most notable fashion labels in South Africa. The brand is especially known for their quirky use of crochet and pop-art style images of South African icons, like Steve Biko. The label draws inspiration from the Afro-urban lifestyle and founder Nkhensani Nkosi succeeded in creating an African brand which celebrates the country’s sense of identity in a creative way.
Nkhensani Nkosi is the brains behind Stoned Cherrie which she brought into existence in 2000 and is currently among the award-winning clothing labels South Africa. The brand has told its story through the bespoke fabric to various woven pieces that have been embraced in the continent and beyond. The highlight of the humbling journey is that the brand has been breaking the waves and has made it to the runway and gone to the extent of representing the country in competitions. All these achievements are as a result of the hard work that Nkhensani Nkosi has put towards her passion that she turned into a career.
MaXhosa Laduma hails from the Xhosa community, and as a result, he draws inspiration for his style from his cultural background. His style is distinct as it comes out in the form of abstract patterns in his knitwear. He is one of the few designers in the fashion world South Africa who have chosen to do things locally by buying some of the locally available materials for his line.
Mzukisi Mbane (Imprint)
The Cape Town based label was established in 2011 by Mzukisi Mbane under the name Swagger Diariez. Mbane started off without any formal training and only his mother’s sewing machine. Today, Imprint is a clothing brand that fuses South African street wear with vintage designs. The label strives to live up to its name with an ethos of “leaving a mark” through its designs.
Jacques van der Watt (Black Coffee)
Jacques van der Watt flawlessly incorporates traditional South African design patterns into his modern creations and pays a large amount of attention to detail. Van der Watt showed his first collection at South African Fashion Week in 1999 and since then his label has become synonymous with cutting edge, local fashion design. Black Coffee is mainly characterized by its structural designs combined with complex shapes, and the installation shows are often hosted at unusual venues, such as Constitution Hill in Johannesburg.
Cari Stephenson is another designer based in Cape Town’s business world South Africa and the brains behind Tart designs. Her style is a little different from the rest as she expresses her creativity through ethnic prints and classic silhouettes. The best term that could be used to describe her style is simple but sophisticated. The other thing that makes the line stand out is its colour scheme that is eclectic.
Anisa Mpungwe (Loin Cloth & Ashes)
Loin Cloth & Ashes was launched in 2008 by Johannesburg-based fashion designer Anisa Mpungwe, who designs modern clothing with an African twist. Her items are all inspired by African traditions and the people that inhabit the country, which ensures that her designs are completely unique. In 2010, Anisa showed at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York and her store in Maboneng is perfect if you’re after a stand-out outfit.
Born in Tanzania, Anisa was raised in South Africa, and she took advantage of the opportunities in the country to build her brand in the design industry. As young as 19, she was already up building her career. She started working for various fashion magazines, houses, and factories. This helped her groom her skills, and within no time, she was already working on her brand.
She has showcased her work in various fashion weeks in various platforms in Mozambique, New York, Italy, Sweden, to mention a few. Loin Cloth & Ashes is the name of Anisa’s brand. It can be described as a sophisticated blend of African print and a bit of modern print. Anisa believes that she has been able to tell her story through her brand. The most notable collaborations that the latter has done include brands like Samsung, Bobbi Brown, and MRP. These collaborations speak volumes about her.
Bongiwe Walaza is the perfect definition of ‘the apple does not fall away from the tree. The latter learnt the skill from her mother who was a seamstress. She perfected on it and ended up becoming the international designer that she is. She has worked with textile companies like Da Gama textiles that are notable for producing shweshwe fabric. The fabric has great influence in her design as her style is described as earthy.
The David Tlale label has received international recognition and is a favourite among South African celebs and socialites. In 2009 David Tlale was awarded Fashion Designer of the Year at the Africa Fashion Awards in Johannesburg. In 2011 he presented a collection titled “Made In The City” which celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 92nd birthday.
In this showcase, 92 models used the Nelson Mandela bridge as their runway, donning Tlale’s clothing. Tlale was also the first South African fashion designer to showcase solo at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York in September 2012.
Zahnri Gertse is one of the youngest fashionest designers in South Africa. She launched her label in 2018. Her brand, Virtue SA, encompasses street-wear whose aesthetic is dictated by comfort. She took part in Edcon Design Innovation Challenge during the South African Fashion Week AW19 where she emerged as the winner.
These are some of the most influential South African designers that are breaking the waves in the art to come up with the most unique pieces. Some have worked on hippie clothing South Africa whereas others have let comfort dictate their style.
Linda Gale (Stitch & Steel)
Stitch & Steel, founded by Linda Gale, is a Johannesburg-based fashion label that creates quirky items made from authentic fabrics sourced from all over Africa. The label’s main focus is women’s clothing but they also have a men’s range, which includes ties and patterned shirts. Only a few of each garment is created, so you’ll be the proud owner of a very exclusive piece.
Stitch & Steel Linda’s style incorporates a striking array of brightly-coloured fabrics that bring out the African feminine beauty. Quality is another key area of concern for Linda.
Thula Sindi is not a name to associate with the local designers in South Africa because he is more than skilled in the art. He has a background in fashion as he is an alumnus of the London International School of Fashion. Thula Sindi is one of the most promising SA designers names because of his wealth of experience in working with a textiles company that prompted him to work on his brand. His clothes are his centre of attraction.
Marianne Fassler is a well-known name in the South African fashion industry and rightly so, as she’s spent more than three decades in the business. Fassler opened her first store in 1976 and today her label, Leopard Frock, is based in Saxonwold, Johannesburg.
Her designs offer creative, beautifully made clothing items and she’s well known for her unique wedding dresses.
Palesa Mokubung (Mantsho)
Manthso means “a beautiful complexion” in Sesotho and the label was founded by Palesa Mokubung in 2004. Palesa uses traditional African fabrics and combines them with modern silks and weaves to create edgy clothing items. She worked as a designer at iconic local label Stoned Cherrie before going off on her own and starting Mantsho. Her label has been showcased all over the world including New York, India, Nigeria and Greece. Mantsho has a stand-alone store in Melville, Johannesburg (27 Boxes) and is also sold online through Spree.
This is one of the brands that has had some of the best breaks in the industry. The brand has been in the industry for more than a decade, and the baby steps are finally yielding fruits. Palesa had the honour of working with one of the most coveted labels: H&M. This comes after the fashionista landed the opportunity to share a platform with some of the most established giants from countries like India, China, Russia, and Brazil.
Mzukisi Mbane is another icon who is setting trends in the industry in Cape Town. The latter is a graduate with a Bachelors degree in Commerce who chose to follow his passion and establish his brand, Swagger Diaries way back in 2011. Mzukisi has no background or any form of training in the field but manages to create 80% of his work. Swagger diaries is a brand of a kind as it aims at narrating the tales of the African ancestors through the fabric designs and unique prints. The brand has diversified to work on shoes and some of the most unique accessories.
Wandile Zondo (Thesis Lifestyle)
Thesis Lifestyle is not only a street wear label, but also a brand that hosts events and activities, such as Social Run and Ride – a free fun run in Soweto. Thesis Lifestyle is also well known for their Thesis Social Jam Sessions, held on Sundays, which brings creatives from all over the city (and country) together. The label is passionate about collaborations and encourages its followers to go out into the streets and open their eyes to the many possibilities that surround them.
Content courtesy of Brie fly & Nairobi fashion hub