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Sustainable fashion just keeps on keeping on looking good


Sustainable fashion just keeps on keeping on looking good

See all the good work on Friday at Africa Fashion International week in Cape Town

Jackie May

Do you wonder how South Africa’s fashion industry is keeping up with the international sustainability trend? Well it’s growing at a good pace and our adaption of the trend looks very exciting. To get a taste of what’s happening, Fashion Revolution is presenting a group show of some leading South African sustainable brands at the AFI Fashion Week in Cape Town on Friday night. The show, produced by Deon Redman, comes a month before the start of Fashion Revolution’s week-long campaign #whomademyclothes which started five years ago when a clothing factory collapsed in Rena Plaza, Blangladesh, killing 1,138 people. Fashion Revolution is a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. Below are some of the fashion designers participating in the group show:
MAHONESince he was 12 Sibusiso Mahone says he's been able to spot trends. So it should come as no surprise that he's part of this group show. But his interest in launching a sustainable and ethical brand isn’t about following a trend, it’s about caring about the world and our environment. Mahone makes his clothes in collaboration with two older woman from a township in Tembisa. He says, “I work with these ladies to help them make money and support their families. I believe this is my way of giving back to those less fortunate and also growing and learning with them”. His current collection is based on recycling hessian (sack cloth).After he read how slaves used hessian cloth because they couldn’t access cotton fabric for clothes making, Mahone decided to use it “to create modern conceptual and ready-to-wear clothes that show people both the power of upcycling fabric and the history of this fabric”.  The looks, he says, are a symbol of peace and unity.  And he hopes they will raise awareness about sustainable fashion and start conversations about how we can recycle fabrics and other materials such as disused rubber tyres to make clothes.
IMPRINTZAWhen Mzukisi Mbane was in matric he read in a newspaper article that “thanks to Kanye West now real men can wear pink”.  From that moment, he says, “I knew I was going to make clothes to give a certain sense of belonging, tell a story and leave a mark.”  Mbane has been in business with his label ImprintZA since 2012, first working from his mother’s kitchen and now from a studio in Woodstock.Understanding its economic impact as well as the psychological impact on the consumer, Mbane has always been passionate about the “Made in SA”  movement.  Supporting and buying local is more sustainable than importing clothes which have to travel far and cannot always be monitored for ethical labour practices and environmental responsibility. Supporting it also helps support local employment. In his collections Mbane likes to work with one of the most sustainable fabrics, linen, and upcycled material.
AFRICA IS NOW  COLLECTIONAfrica Is Now Magazine is collaborating with Imprint ZA to showcase their signature Africa Is Now T-shirts. With this collaboration, Chrisna de Bruyn will introduce the public to the magazine, her new online platform that explores the emerging, contemporary African creative landscape. “We were invited by Fashion Revolution to join the group show. We hope to be a voice for both established artists as well as emerging African artists and include an ethical and sustainable approach to fashion and art,” says De Bruyn.
SITTING PRETTYEmma Longdon launched Sitting Pretty in 2009 without a clear vision for the brand. After trial and error she realised she needed to become an environmentally aware and ethical brand. “We use natural fabrics as far as possible, utilising rayon (man-made but from cellulose), cotton, linen and hemp. Our knitwear is 100% natural yarn, mostly wool and mohair sourced locally and sustainably,” says Longden. Sitting Pretty is always looking for more environmentally fibres. Longden started the Cape Town-based T.H.E.M (the ethical market) in 2017 as a pop-up to create awareness around what ethical fashion is, why it’s important to buy local and ethical as opposed to cheap fast fashion. She was surprised by the unexpectedly good response. “I think people are slowly becoming more aware that fashion has to become more sustainable and ethical,” she says.
LEANDI MULDERAs a student Durban-based designer Leandi Mulder learnt how the production of fast fashion depletes the world’s natural resources, encourages people to consume more and more and to attach less and less value to their clothes. As a consequence her work gravitates towards exploring ecological and sustainable design through recycling and upcycling. “I look at the resource potential of waste-clothing, and through using an intuitive and creative process I transform scraps of fabric into textile pieces to use in my garments,” she says.Sustainable fashion, she says, can be considered as fashion that opposes environmental destruction through a full-circle design approach that implements processes such as innovative, zero-waste pattern making, upcycled and sustainable fabrics, and ethical construction. Mulder makes all her clothes by hand. She uses patchwork and handweaving techniques to construct textiles. She sources her fabric from second-hand outlets, receives donations and buys textile company samples. “I’ve also sourced second-hand kimonos from thrift stores in Japan. And many, many old saris from the incredible car boot market in Durban.”
Mulder hopes her work inspires people to be more mindful and think harder about their consumer habits.Other brands involved in the Fashion Revolution show are The Joinery, Hemporium, Lalesso, Steffany Roup, Karoo Moon, Afrigarde, Chrystal Birch and Design Afrika. For more information about the 9.15pm show on Friday see https://africanfashioninternational.com

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