The Edit: 7 Designer Brands Bringing South African Fashion to the World
In a country as diverse and culturally rich as South Africa, it’s easy to understand why there is such a plethora of creators and artists. In the fashion world specifically, South African designers have proved themselves as a force to be reckoned with by pushing the creative boundaries of where designer clothing, jewelry, and accessories can go. By combining the unique blend of cultures present throughout South Africa with fashion-forward styles, the brands featured here are changing the fashion world on a global scale.
Now that these designers have gained such widespread recognition, anyone is able to capture the vibrancy and bustle of cities such as Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg through their own wardrobe with the range of South African designers featured on The Folklore. Each of the brands listed below mirrors the country’s authenticity with their own one-of-a-kind vision; you’re sure to find your next wardrobe staple in any of their stunning collections.
Founded by Cape Town-based designer Nicola West in 2010, W35T aims to rebrand classic silhouettes for the modern woman. Each piece is designed to keep you feeling comfortable and confident while still looking elegant and stylish. Specializing in bold dresses for the woman who embraces life and all that it throws at her, W35T pieces are perfect for any occasion or time of day, as well as every body type.
If you’re interested in finding a sustainable brand that will help you to look great while knowing your clothes are ethically made, SELFI is the brand for you. Producing mainly ready-to-wear clothing for chic everyday looks, the brand prides itself on drawing details from South African culture, history, and identity while still celebrating an essence of the self. As its name suggests, SELFI designs with authenticity and individuality in mind. The company is housed in its own lifestyle concept store in the heart of Cape Town, selling annual collaborations with local leaders in the South African creative sphere.
Simon and Mary
With more than 70 years of experience under its belt, milliner Simon and Mary specializes in simple but stylish hats that integrate ancient styles with contemporary design. Utilizing the same trusted machinery that they’ve used for decades, Simon and Mary’s modern take on headwear can elevate any outfit you put together. Their signature piece, the Fez, which was popularized during the Ottoman period by people living in the Middle East and North Africa, is one example of a classic style that the brand has taken and made its own.
When designers Amanda Laird Cherry and Brendan Sturrock founded ALC, their goal was to take inspiration from their home town of Durban, South Africa in order to create garments steeped in the deep-rooted cultural communities they were surrounded by growing up. Since they have launched the brand, they’ve become known for their innovative designs which focus on craftsmanship and an organic color palette but also work as functional pieces for everyday wear. As a result, their garments reflect the multicultural atmosphere of South Africa and show the way for sophisticated men who want to blend modern style with traditional African fashion when it comes to their day-to-day wardrobe.
Though many jewelry brands place their focus on perfectly crafted pieces with streamlined styles that are identical to one another, LORNE thrives on the imperfections of its production. As a self-described manufacturer of “sketches and doodles in metal,” the brand prides itself on creating wearable art inspired by everyday spontaneity. In keeping with this vision, almost no two pieces are exactly alike; even with earrings, oftentimes one earring does not perfectly match the other. Each piece is handcrafted and made to be one of a kind, allowing you to wear a truly unique piece of art which embraces modern minimalism while still making a statement.
Shop LORNE here
Based in Cape Town, Thalia Strates is an accessory brand looking to revolutionize the business and create beautiful pieces in the process. The brand prides itself on transparency when it comes to their manufacturing and materials: their local artisans set their own wages and work with ethically-sourced materials. While changing how design brands operate, they create accessories that combine functionality with effortless sophistication. Through their use of raw materials and incorporation of handmade designs, each piece brings its own kind of “lived-in luxury” that will elevate whatever outfit you decide to pair it with.
Shop Thalia Strates here
Before working as a jewelry designer, Katherine-Mary Pichulik was a pastry chef. Now, she brings that intricate design experience to a completely different medium with PICHULIK, which has been crafting impactful jewelry for women since 2013. Much of the inspiration for the brand is the intimate relationships women have with their jewelry and the stories that each piece can tell about the individual. Operating out of Cape Town and priding itself on using locally sourced materials, the brand celebrates African culture and strives to create jewelry which will serve as “a sacred conduit for healing, community, and wisdom.”
Shop PICHULIK here
Words by Elise Soutar