Many hands make fashion work for Sindiso Khumalo at Milan ...


Many hands make fashion work for Sindiso Khumalo at Milan Fashion Week

The SA designer lets us in on her first solo show at the spring/summer 2021 showcase

Thango Ntwasa
Sindiso Khumalo.
BIG DESIGNS Sindiso Khumalo.
Image: Twitter

Sustainability, innovation and impeccable textiles are intricately woven in the collections designed by Sindiso Khumalo, and her signature style was the one to watch at Milan Fashion Week on Thursday.

Khumalo, who’s no stranger to the European fashion market, was one of the LVMH prize finalists who shared the winnings in 2020. After being approached by the president of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, Khumalo sought to put together a collection that would encapsulate some of the many pertinent issues, including poverty alleviation, that affect fellow South Africans. Another main focus for the collection was revolutionary abolitionist, Harriet Tubman.

“I’ve been thinking about her story since the beginning of the year and how I was going to tell it,” says Khumalo, who hints that it’s a two-part narrative. “She’s like a Nelson Mandela of her time. She’s this huge iconic figure who saved so many black lives.”

Khumalo has previously shown her collections from the past four years at the Milan Fashion Hub Market. In 2019, she was joined by her “brothers” in fashion, Thebe Magugu and Laduma Ngxokolo of MaXhosa, when a number of designers had the opportunity to showcase their garments. However, for the upcoming show Khumalo will be showing solo for the first time at Milan.

Khumalo’s collection has also been the conduit towards her path into being honest about the way she creates each of her garments. Limiting dependency on digital construction, Khumalo’s collection will feature garments that have been hand-crocheted with an NGO she’s partnered with.

“I’m trying to get women out of homelessness and into work. So, they come into my studio and I teach them hand crocheting and hand embroidery. We’ve got a lot of that in the collection,” says Khumalo.

The collection will also feature signature works of hand weaving constructed in Burkina Faso in addition to a new weaver she works with based in the Karoo. The collection will include hand-stitched silk fabrics.

“There’s a hand at every point with many of these fabrics and we also collaborated with an artist, Shakil Solanki, for the illustrations on the prints,” Khumalo shares.

“Excited and privileged” for the opportunity, Khumalo notes that it’s vital that more South Africans make an effort to not only see the shows but support the work of local designers.

The collection continues her staunch stance on sustainability. Khumalo says she’s paid close attention to sustainability with the weaving behind her collections, which has also allowed for the support of heritage crafts.

“I’m trying to work with as many NGOs as possible so there’ll be more experimental work with all the charities I work with. I want to help solve the crisis of poverty in Africa. I think that’s what my work speaks to,” says Khumalo.

“We can’t keep asking people ‘who made my clothes?’ when they can’t even eat. They won’t even join in on the conversation on recycling so we need to address the question of how to alleviate poverty.”

Khumalo’s collection began on September 24 as part of the pre-recorded virtual shows from Milan Fashion Week. The collection will be available to the public in early 2021. 

Sharing the news with her 18,300 Instagram followers, Khumalo said: “Super excited to be presenting our SS21 collection at Milan Fashion Week this year. Very excited to have been included on the schedule, in our capacity for the first time. Huge, huge thanks to @cameramoda for their continuous support of our brand. The digital film showcase will air on Thursday CEST 5pm. Link in our bio. Onwards and upwards, let’s keep building.”