Fashion is a reflection of society, and as such, has joined the global environmental concern to plunge into a new transformation towards sustainable fashion. Since only a few years ago, the system of the textile industry suffered a major global relocation jump. It was born what was called the “fast fashion”, the continuous creation of series of garments and at low cost. Now we are in front of the start of a new era in which sustainability has everything to win the game.
In an effort to spotlight more holistic practises with in the fashion industry that favour intricate craftsmanship and exquisitely thoughtful designs, The French Institute of South Africa and the Goethe-Institut South Africa — In support of of the Franco-German Cultural Fund, have joined forces to champion five emerging designers shaping the future of sustainable South African fashion in the True Fashion, Try on Green programme.
The first of it’s kind in the South African landscape, the programme was conceptualised to identify the next generation of sustainable designers as part of a mentorship programme. Five emerging designers were selected out of 60 applicants to be part of the programme that provided accesses to exclusive industry expertise. The programme boasted direct mentorship from LVMH Award Winner Lukahnayo Mdingi along side German- Nigerian eponymous slow fashion label founder Buki Akomolafe, founder and director of Casa Geraçao (the first and only fashion school in a favela of Rio de Janeiro) Nadine Gonzalez and multi-talented artist, fashion designer and alternative activist, Olga Pham.
Lukhanyo Mdingi assisting mentee Burton Miles.
The programme offered the 5 mentees access to 8 experts on sustainable fashion who lead dialogues with them, 40+ hours of technical workshops and group mentoring, 4 masterclasses in Cape Town and Johannesburg and a partnership with Casa 93, an alternative fashion school in Paris.
Visual artisit and fashion influencer Lulama Wolf presenting to the mentees.
Lukhanyo Mdingi talking to mentees Xola Maxoba and Zovuyo Mputa.
The mentees were given the opportunity to create one sustainably conscious garment — under the guidance of the mentors to apply acquired skills learnt from the comprehensive programme. In a one day photoshoot held in Cape Town, the mentees presented a snapshot of their interpretation of a sustainable fashion challenge.
The Fashion Designers:
A Cape Peninsula University of Technology graduate who holds a Bachelor’s degree in fashion design, Xola was introduced to sustainable designs by her grandmother. Xola studies the vegetable dying method, and she aims to explore more of these methods with different fabrics.
Her unique design created through the programme was a linen, raw silk dress with beaded trims dyed in Turmeric for the programme.
Burton is currently a second-year fashion design student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology who plans to launch his own brand soon.
Burton’s gender-nonconforming designs for the programme include an elegant kimono and dress inspired by South Korean culture, made from recycled material and dyed using vegetable extracts.
Inspired by his parents, friends and community him to get into fashion, Khumo is an ambitious and self-taught fashionista who embraces all opportunities available to him, especially pertaining to the benefits of sustainable fashion.
Khumo’s cutting-edge five-piece ensemble is an excellent example of upcycling or using fabrics with minimal impact on the environment.
Zovuyo has been interested in fashion since she was a child. While working part-time, she studied Multimedia and Computer Science. Despite a few career changes, she always found her way back to fashion, a calling that was cemented when her father gave her a sewing machine with which she began making clothes. She later enrolled at UNISA to pursue a BConsSci Fashion Small Business degree.
With her carefully crafted suits, Zovuyo demonstrated how to make a powerful statement.
Nkosazana (Zaza) is an award-winning arts and culture journalist on most days. Through multilingual journalism and prose, she spends her days demystifying the often elitist and complex art world. Her pop culture analyses, on the other hand, seek to facilitate critical thinking through the use of everyday references. She crochets after five o’clock and on weekends to cope with the productivity compulsions of occupying spaces that value continuous output over sustainable, ethical, and kind production. This has recently resulted in her establishing a small business called Kabini, through which she sells crochet clothing and accessories via Instagram.
With a stylish bomber and matching dress, she added a modern twist to the knitwear.
The True Fashion: Try on Green program highlights the wealth of knowledge and beauty that can be discovered by participating in meaningful conversations and activities centered on slow fashion and conscious design.
Overall, shifting perspectives on production and design to prioritize more sustainable practices demonstrates that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Creative Director: Lukhanyo Mdingi
Photographer: Luke Houba
Makeup Artist : Inga Hewett
Models : Sarah and Alonzo (Twenty Model Management)
Photographer: Doctor Moyo.