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The South African fashion industry has never been more lucrative or competitive.

Clement Manyathela speaks to fashion designers, Thulani Mlambo, Nina Sedumedi, and Inga Sebata, about what it takes to be a designer in South Africa.

Designers like Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu, Gert-Johan Coetzee, and David Tlale have been making waves on the global scene, propelling South African fashion to heights it has never seen before.

This, along with the rise of digital marketing, has set the trajectory that has exposed South Africa to a litany of young talent making waves across the country in their own ways.

The process of designing a garment is one of the most fascinating ways in which an artist can express their aesthetic and identity – a core feature of design orientated mega franchise, Project Runway.

Most runway-orientated designers choose to use sketches to conceptualise their work and collections.

I draw, I prefer it that way and then just from conceptualising, you put it down on paper and then I use Photoshop a lot, as well – so, putting my designs through Photoshop, making sure the printer is fine and then, running… I love sketching… I design according to what I’m feeling and what I want to see on the runway.

Thulani Mlambo, owner and founder – Saint Vuyo

However, some designers, particularly those who specialise in ready-to-wear, choose to formulate their creations straight from the head.

What I do, because I have a team of three full-time seamstresses, if a design is complicated, I will do a sample. So, I will do a Barbie doll sample and then they must replicate that but in a bigger scale and bigger sizes but no, I don’t draw. I hate it so much.

Inga Sebata, founder – StitchedByInga

I was never creative at university. I hated drawing and I still don’t draw… It’s all in my head… I just know how [to bring it to life].

Nina Sedumedi, founder and director – Nina Sedumedi Creations

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