// Shona Accra | Mandeo | Tanya Nerfetari | Ara Kani | SomeStuff | Maze Customs //
Wassup wassup. I hope that you have been awesome, and that the remainder of 2016 is treating you well. 2016 has definitely been quite a rough year, but we have to finish strong. For this article, I have taken the time to get in contact with a lot of people that design stuff that will be worth your money in 2017.
Africa is gifted with so many great fashion designers, so it will only be an injustice for us not to support them better than we support brands from across the waters. A couple years ago, I told myself that one day, I want my cupboard to be filled with 90% local clothing by local fashion designers, especially clothing that exposes the beauty of Africa. I'll be honest: I'm still quite far, but I'm slowly working towards achieving this. Please note that, I don't support local "JUST BECAUSE" it's local. I support it because it's dope, as well as professional and authentic. I've seen quite a number of people that cry fowl about lack of support for their brands, however their brands lack a lot of fundamental elements/factors that contribute to being able to compete with other brands in the same field/market. This is the similar case with local Hip Hop artists I believe. Any way, let me not waste too much of your time, because I hate giving you too much too read when I have exquisite pictures to share with you that can do the talking for me (and the designers too). I hope you're ready for the 6 fashion brands that I will be sharing with you, because this is gonna be an awesome jam packed article that will definitely help you add some beautiful clothing to your wardrobes.
The first fashion brand I'ma talk about is "Shona Accra". I'm sure this name rings a bell to a lot of South Africans and Zimbabweans in the Fashion industry, but if it doesn't, then the name "Ngugi Velly Vere - aka King Vere" should do the trick. Ngugi Vere is the head creative of the brand "Shona Accra" and also the Creative Director (and Producer) of the Soweto Fashion Week. He's a Zimbabwean, currently based in Midrand, Johannesburg (SA), and that's where you can find this fashion entrepreneur and Image consultant. Some of his greatest achievements include: Giving his life to Jesus (Amen); being the first Southern African stylist to do an international reality TV show; styling some of the top hip hop artists in Africa such as Khuli Chana, AKA, Da les and Assessa; and he won "Personality of the year 2015" at the Zim Achievers Awards. He's been featured on People magazine, Fashion One TV, Elle Magazine, and other prominent platforms as well as radio stations.
Mr Ngugi Vere told me that he get's his inspiration from wanting to help people achieve their life goal through style and Image.He also get's his inspiration from his late mother (when he was the age of 6, his mom would allow him to choose his own wardrobe, and she was also a woman that could dress well a lot). In general, he's also inspired by Tom Ford, Diddy, Rihanna and Laduma. One of the great things I really like about this young man is that he started a pad campaign which I believe has been going well so far. It's always great to see such influential people doing something positive by helping communities with their needs, and I'm sure that we can all agree that the access to sanitary pads is a great challenge that a lot of young girls face day in and day out. Well, the year is not yet over, and he has the Soweto Fashion Week coming up from the 23rd to the 26th of November, so make sure you don't miss it (From the 24th until January, he'll be having a pop up at Menyln mall, so you can also find him there). He's mantra is as follows: "Be Bold | Be yourself" , and I asked him to provide a few words of advice for someone that may want to get into the Fashion industry and this is what he had to say:
"God comes first, trust your guts, work hard to get to your dreams. Always be disciplined and give your customer great service"
The second fashion designer on the line-up is "Pondi Paul-William" , who's the founder and CEO of the brand "Mandeo" (with his brother "Florent- Olivier Pondi"). He was born in Washington DC, but is currently based in Cameroon. He's been featured on Forbes Afrique and BBC Africa, as well as Kalak Fm among many other prominent platforms as well. With regards to his inspiration, he told me that he saw a lack of confidence in African culture and entrepreneurship spirit, (so basically he decided to get involved himself, and to make a difference). He also mentioned Tony Elumelu as one of the people who also inspired him to get into the Fashion industry. He's planning on branching further into different parts of Africa (especially Central Africa) come 2017, so yeah, keep your eyes wide open (or in fact, you can contact him after reading this article to order your clothing from him, wherever you may be). He's Mantra is as follows:
" Between tradition and modernity, become yourself again "
Now let me take you to Zimbabwe for a second, and no, this Fashion designer is Zimbabwean and based in Zimbabwe. lol . "Tanya Nicola Mushayi" is the extremely beautiful lady behind the brand "Tanya Nefertari" [Nefertari meaning Beautiful Companion: For people who aren't afraid to comfortably stand out]. She's known for being a fashion fanatic, and she started out making clothes for herself, wearing her own designs and blogging about them. Well, now her label is one of the favorites among Zimbabwe's style savvy crowd.
One of her greatest achievements was being awarded the Creative Nestlings Young African Designer of the year in 2015, and this year she was nominated for a Zimbabwe International Women's 2016 "Panel Choice Award". I cannot wait to get myself one of her brand's Bomber jackets, coz they are the "bomb"- I know the pictures speak for themselves, but I just had to share my opinion. She has dressed a number of prominent people such as Jackie Queens, and one of them also happen to be "Tehn Diamond", who's definitely a household name in the Zimbabwean Hip hop community. We recently featured his debut album "A few Good Poems" in one of our previous articles. Tanya has featured on well known international media platforms such as Check Out Africa, a website that I look forward to contributing to soon. She has also worked with Diesel + Edun on their collaboration, as a brand ambassador for their "Made in Africa" collection and she contributes to their Studio Africa blog. One of my favorite quotes that she shared not so long ago, goes as follows:
"Be willing to go alone sometimes. You don't need permission to grow. Not everyone who started with you, will finish with you and that's OK"
Fourth on the line up, we're heading back to South Africa (but well be back in Zim again shortly). We now have "Nkululeko Ncube", the founder and Creative Director of "Ara Kani" (A brand that I think has almost become synonymous with one of Zimbabwe's prominent rappers, ASAPH). He's a Zimbabwean, but currently based in Joburg, South Africa. Mr Ara Kani here has showcased his work at the Durban Fashion Fair in 2013, SA Men's Wear Week 2016, and he won "Best Male Designer" at the inaugural Matabeleland Fashion Week. He has featured on Expresso SABC3, Fashion Lab Africa - Cliff Central, Fashion Ghana Magazine, Italian Male Fashion Trends and the list is endless.
I asked Nkululeko how he found himself in the fashion industry, and he told me that it actually wasn't his primary plan to get into the industry. He wanted to do a graphic designing course at a local college, but they didn't offer the course, so he opted to do the next design thing available and that was Pattern Cutting and Designing (then Bam!!!!), the rest is history. lol This kinda reminds me of how I chose to study Marketing (I had not passion for it, and just thought it would help me venture into any industry I then saw fit, only to then realize that Marketing was part of my intuition. lol) . In 2017, make sure you look out for Ara Kani in your local stores (but you can still make online purchases), as well as for shows around Zim and SA (especially in Cape Town around February and March . The brand"s mission is simple: "Taking Runway to the streets". Here's some advice from him for those looking to get into the Fashion Bizz:
"Be humble and be patient. It's not an easy industry to break into and it takes time. I also haven't reached the pinnacles I plan to reach after 5 years into it. You also need to be original, aggressive and consistent with your craft"
We are now on Number 5, and we're back in South Africa, and this time we're in Bloem. (It wouldn't make sense for me not tot talk about the locals doing great things in the community I reside in right?). Well, unlike the previous fashion designers, this next designer specializes in accessories, beautiful accessories, for both men and women. The brand I'm talking about is called "SomeStuff Designs", and the young man behind this fast growing brand is non other than "Onele Tamba". He's originally from Stutterheim, but he's currently based in Bloemfontein, SA.
His brand has been hosted at the Macufe craft Market , and he has managed to get Mpho Botha (Mister Teen World) and also Diaan Neethling (Top 14 Mr SA contestant) as his brand ambassadors. The brand has featured on local newspapers such as Daily Sun, as well as local radio stations. I asked when and how he got into the Fashion industry and he told me that he's been very good with crafts ever since he was young, however he did see himself venturing into (there were also no development programs in his community). He's part of the Free State Art Fusion, which has played a huge role in inspiring him, as well as supporting and mentoring him (Big ups to Nitro and the FSAF crew). Friends, family and his clients have also inspired him to continue doing what he does. Onele is planning on growing his brand to such an extent where he will be producing various present packages for different companies and events (so is you ever need something like Speaker Gifts, of presents for your guest, you gotta get them "Somestuff"). He also plans on teaching his 12 year old nephew how to do business, by assisting him practically, thus allowing his nephew to also raise money to buy his own stationary for school.etc. I also asked him about his mantra, and it goes as follows: "Live today, prepare for tomorrow". A few words of advise from this young gentleman were as follows:
"Being in the fashion industry is not an easy job, or even any industry. We all live with a plan that we are going to school to graduate and then get employed, which is one of the reasons why we have a high level of employment. Imagine with the idea you have, how many people you can employ and contribution you could make to our own GDP. Be careful; someone might be thinking of the exact same idea as you, so don't just be a dreamer. Have self determination, and wait for no-one. Start building your empire with the little that you have, and stop making excuses."
Alright, we have come to the end of yet another jam packed article, and I hope that if you're fashion designer/ were planning on becoming one, you've been inspired. If you're not in any of these 2 categories I just mentioned, then I sincerely hope that you think twice before upgrading your wardrobe with stuff that comes/ is inspired from the other side of the waters. lol. I have spoken, but I'm sure the pictures have spoken more, so come 2017 (or in fact, even for Christmas - you can thank me later), make sure you get yourself or a friend some beautiful, amazing, exquisite, and authentic clothes and clothing accessories from these talented and artistic fashion designers. Before I conclude the article, I gotta share with you just one more brand by a local designer based in South Africa. The brand name is called "MAZE Customs", and believe me when I say, this brand is definitely destined to make waves come 2017. Their deigns are artistic and creative on another level, and like I said on Facebook not so long ago "If I had a girlfriend, I would get one of MAZE's jackets for her".lol Well ladies and gentlemen, this is it.
Thanks for reading this article (and please note that you can access the designers websites/ Facebook pages by clicking on the hyperlinks provided in the text). Feel free to holla at your boy on Twitter @2tukani