Material Masters


Meet the faces behind brands taking South African fashion by storm.

Dainty Frocks – Nqobile Tshalata


I started my business in 2012. My brand represents all things simple, timeless and elegant. It speaks to everyone who values quality and, sophistication, and understands the value of ethical clothing.

I draw inspiration from everyone around me, from how they walk to how they carry themselves. I feel we can learn a lot from spending time with people from different backgrounds.

The best advice to up and coming designers is to run your own race and be your own competition. Trust your vision and, more importantly, make people see your point of view. Never lose touch with who you are.

AMEN Couture – Abiah Mahlase and Bradley Muttit

We started out in the fashion industry three years ago, with a pocketful of dreams, and a hunger to be different and stand out from the crowd. AMEN is the church of fashion and we represent all that is next level and experimental.

Our brand speaks to people with a taste for the unique. Anyone who speaks and wears fashion as a form of communication or use it as a way to express themselves is our target market.

Our biggest achievement was when we showcased our collection in Saxonworld on the opening night of SA Fashion Week last October. It was a dream come true to be a part of something that represents the heartbeat of fashion and we were very honoured to be blessed with that opportunity.

Our mantra is: If your ideas don’t drive you crazy, it’s no use trying to make consumers go crazy about them.

#Hashtag – Vusi Nxumalo


My brand is young and powerful. It represents femininity and embraces everything that comes with being a modern woman who is at the forefront of her life and wants to up her fashion credentials. Through the brand, I believe in simplicity to stimulate confidence and complement all there is to a woman.

My biggest achievement to date is being one of the select few young designers in the YDE stable. It has been a tough road, especially coming from a disadvantaged background with no financial support to keep my business afloat. Not many fashion brands can make it beyond three years, so the fact that five years later I am still able to wake up every day and do what I love is a blessing.

What sets me apart from other local designers is that I try to be different in my brand identity, colour palette, fabric mixes and overall styling of each piece. It’s good to be different, but not too far out from what is considered desirable because the market still prefers to purchase and own something that others can easily relate to.

The best advice I can give aspiring designers is that they must be prepared to part with a substantial amount of money, especially in the beginning because getting set up doesn’t come cheap. From pattern-making to sourcing material and producing. All these are costly, so it is advisable to start small and create a savings account to build your own capital without borrowing from an external source.

Loin Cloth & Ashes – Anisa Mpungwe

anisaThis brand represents Africa through my eyes – how I see the African continent and how it will always change as I grow older, wiser and more experienced. Our brand has gone through many phases in its seven-year journey. In the beginning, we had a minimalist approach to design, but had intricate detail on some pieces. We then evolved to the world of print from African to Asian, English Rose and even neo-abstract. This year, we are looking at printing our own materials as the brand is growing and we have received a lot of interest from outside South Africa.

Five years from now I would ideally like to have more stores in Africa, but like my story has done in the past, I can never tell what is to come. Everything that’s happened to this brand has been from the success of whatever project we were doing at the time. That’s not to say we don’t have goals; we do, but our philosophy is to remain authentic in everything – our story, service delivery and care for customers – while being accurate in how we operate behind the scenes.

The best piece of advice I would give is to not be hard on yourself and enjoy your youth. The place where you are the happiest is the same place you will find your passion for your purpose.

TGCG (Thabani Gumede and Candice Gumede) – Candice Gumede

I started this journey importing clothing from the Far East for a select client database. It was when I got frustrated with the quality and fit of the stock I was bringing that I knew I had to produce stuff locally. I went back to school and got to understand the dynamics of the fashion industry.

My brand represents young women who enjoy life. I always keep up to date with trends and make sure my pricing is very fair and reasonable.

My biggest challenge has been sustaining the brand and, although it has somewhat been a trying task, I always ensure that I continue marketing it to the best of my ability.

I encourage future rising stars in fashion to write down their vision for their business and stick to it. This will provide the much needed direction for success. Lastly, never stop having fun.


TGCG and #Hashtag available at YDE, Loin Cloth & Ashes 072 143 2312, AMEN Couture 072 568 9442, Dainty Frocks 078 277 5963

Photography by Andile Mthembu

Hair and Make-up Lucoh Mhlongo and Lyn Kennedy

Model Noxy Zinyana at ICE models Johannesburg