Ubuntu is an African social philosophy with compassion, reciprocity, dignity and harmony with all life at its core in the interests of building and maintaining community with justice and mutual caring.
The Return: The Ubuntu and Fashion showcase, is a group exhibition of African designers exploring sustainability in the practice of fashion and design.
These designers focus on the ideologies that beg the fashion industry through Ubuntu, to create ecosystems that allow for one person’s waste to be another’s resource, therefore creating circularity. Using these voices as a different entry point to the conversation on community and sustainability, this is a lesson on how to embrace social philosophies and history to not only upcycle and fight against climate change, but to also preserve indigenous knowledge and processes.The Return has been curated to share this knowledge and to bring diversity and accessibility to the understanding of sustainability. Through increased collaboration, innovation, and through returning, we are reminded that sustainability belongs to us all.
Curated by Zizipho Ntobongwana for the Future of Fashion.
With a profound interest in considered and sincere design, the spirit of collaboration and pursuit of purpose yields the Lukhanyo Mdingi label in creating honest pieces. Since its inception in 2015, the eponymous label has attracted the attention for exclusives from VOGUE ITALIA, NATAAL & I.D. Furthermore showcasing on notable platforms such as The British Fashion Council: International Fashion Showcase, PITTI UOMO IMMAGINE – Generation Africa and The CFDA: New York Fashion Week – Men’s 2019. In addition the label has been part of the Ethical Fashion Initiative Accelerator 2020/21 programme as well as the prestigious LVMH Prize 2021 Edition. The intention behind the label is to ensure a pragmatic and mindful approach in product development whilst looking into human spirit as the provenance in creating design that is honest, steady and strong.With a profound interest in considered and sincere design, the spirit of collaboration and pursuit of purpose yields the Lukhanyo Mdingi label in creating honest pieces. Since its inception in 2015, the eponymous label has attracted the attention for exclusives from VOGUE ITALIA, NATAAL & I.D. Furthermore showcasing on notable platforms such as The British Fashion Council: International Fashion Showcase, PITTI UOMO IMMAGINE – Generation Africa and The CFDA: New York Fashion Week – Men’s 2019. In addition the label has been part of the Ethical Fashion Initiative Accelerator 2020/21 programme as well as the prestigious LVMH Prize 2021 Edition. The intention behind the label is to ensure a pragmatic and mindful approach in product development whilst looking into human spirit as the provenance in creating design that is honest, steady and strong.
Lara Klawikowski is a South African fashion designer and illustrator of Polish and Russian heritage, based in Cape Town. She launched her eponymous label in 2010 with a focus on avant-garde design, after graduating from CTCFD and winning the SACTWU Condom Dress Design Award.
During her studies, she won the prestigious Durban July Young Designer Award, was a top 5 graduate at the CTFC Graduate Shows, runner-up in the FAD Awards, and completed an introductory course in shoe making and shoe design. She showcased her first ready-to-wear collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town in 2013 and was also a semi-finalist in the SAFW Renault New Talent competition.
Lara Klawikowski designs wearable art - bespoke womanswear handcrafted at her studio. Her designs are intriguingly tactile and artisanal, with a distinctive artistry, femininity, edge, and other-worldly beauty. She employs unpredictable pattern-cutting and garment construction, organic draping and proportions. Her love for unusual detail, texture and innovative use of fabric has led to constant experimentation with recycled, upcycled and re-fabricated materials.
Lara Klawikowski won the Innovative Design and Materials Award, as well as the coveted Changemaker Award at the TWYG x Country Road Sustainable Fashion Awards 2020.
Her bespoke creations can be ordered from her studio and her ready-to-wear designs are available at boutiques in Cape Town.
Rethread is sustainable clothing brand selling upcycled, sustainably made & second hand pieces. Our primary focus is developing innovative ways to reduce waste in the fashion industry by using what is already in circulation through up cycling. We also make a small collection of new garments, which is produced locally in small quantities, (to reduce waste & dead stock) & ultimately uplift & support local craftsmanship. At Rethread our mission is to do good & dress better, and help you do the same!
I AM ISIGO
Bubu Ogisi is a fibre artist and Creative director of the contemporary women’s wear brand. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, and now living between Lagos Accra Abidjan and Nairobi, she grew up in multiple cities and studied Fashion at the prestigious Ecole Superieure des Art et technique de la Mode (ESMOD) Paris, France. Her work spans around the idea of how the body exists and interacts with space by creating wearable art pieces and installation art pieces with unconventional organic materials and ancient textiles traditions from all over the African continent. Ogisi does this by adapting ancestral techniques and traditional materials in new and contemporary ways. Her works aims to decolonise and free the mind through manipulating gravity, light, color, mass, and transparency to demonstrate the infinite transformations and iterations of fiber and instal- lation.
I A M I S I G O is a contemporary wearable art brand based between Lagos, Nairobi and Accra. Our work primarily focuses on how fashion and textile can not only keep history alive but also pass on information for the future through preservation of techniques and expression through matter. Thereby using the ultimate canvas-the human body via clothing as a vehicle of communication. We create wearable art pieces with unconventional materials and heritage textiles traditions through in-depth research with remote African communities in different parts of the African continent.
Celebrating 25 years in May 2021, KikoRomeo meaning “Adam’s Apple” in Kiswahili, was founded by Ann McCreath in 1996. It has become a heritage brand, widely credited with transforming fashion in Kenya, and mentoring designers and artists over the last two decades.
To consumers, wearing KikoRomeo can be compared to being a member of an elite club, with recognisable signature pieces, which indicate a commonality and start a conversation.
Transcending cultures and fashion trends, KikoRomeo outfits have ultimately proven to be a source of confidence and pride in all who wear them and all who are part of making them.
We are passionate about sustainability; striving to create longevity in each garment by using handmade and hand-dyed fabrics as well as hand-carved trims, sourced from the African continent. Our fabrics come mainly from natural fibres including cottons, linens and silk. The silhouettes are effortlessly elegant, with attention to detail. They are treasured as works of art by our clients.
Our vision is to bring different peoples together for humanity, using fashion and art as a medium. Our designs enable conversations and build wider understanding between nations and cultures.
Who We Are
We love the arts and use our language and fashion skills to mentor and inspire people to be open-minded and to earn a living from creativity. The beautiful things we create, embolden the wearer, opening new paths and giving them confidence to bring out their own authenticity. Our items are crafted by artists in East Africa, many of whom have worked with us for over two decades. We often collaborate with others in the visual arts, literature, theatre, film and music, who enrich our works with their talents.
KikoRomeo continues to question what we can wear to look great. Looking at the textiles in paints, the accidental merging of colours and mixed media create and originality and richness in the textiles.
St Reign is a minimalist leather accessories brand which advocates for sustainability and slow fashion. Our bags are handcrafted from beginning to end. We aim to use more environmental friendly materials like vegan leather and choose locally sourced leather. St Reign is inspired by the merging of craft and design.
St Reign founder and designer, Samkelisiwe Mhlongo grew up in a family of crafters and makers. Often drawing inspiration from her mother who worked as a hairstylist and a salon owner together with her sister. And her gran who loved mending clothes. These 3 women respectively are a source of style inspiration from some of our collections. For now St Reign is run by founder, designer and Design Indaba’s Emerging Creative for 2020, Samkelisiwe Mhlongo who is responsible for designing and handcrafting all the products.
The Amazing Work of An'so
The Amazing Work of AN’SO is a funky and colourful accessories brand established in 2017 in Cape Town by Anne-Sophie RANDRIAMAHANINA (aka Anso). Anso is the fairy maker behind every piece!
Every jewel is handmade by herself in her home-studio in Woodstock with much love and care. She creates unique upcycled jewelleries using recycled beads and random everyday life “trash” such as empty lighters or can openers. She also creates magical and beautiful pieces out of semi-precious gemstones from Madagascar.
Originally from there, and deeply inspired by the ways of her people, Anso believes that everyone’s trash is someone else’s treasure! So she creatively, and with a touch of free spirited and pop-punk style, upcycles old and forgotten jewels into new one-of-a-kind amazing pieces!
The Amazing Work of AN’SO is a slow fashion brand for the soft rebels, the non-conformist, the stylish carefree spirits and the conscious ones that do what they feel like doing when they want to, but always in respect of others and nature.
Tshepiso is the namesake of the founder and metalsmith.
The focus is on crafting jewellery that is based on shapes derived from daily life, art and memories. The working process often consists of building up and stripping down work to reach a delicate balance of weight and shape. There are no conventional collections but a continual play on existing pieces and builds onto them to sustain relevance while staying true to work that cannot be replicated or recreated. Every piece of jewellery is made to order and is handcrafted in the studio by Tshepiso just for you. The handcrafted nature of Tshepiso makes every piece similar but unique in its slight differences and imperfections.
Tshepiso studied fine art and completed their degree at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, but has always had a keen interest in fashion. The venture into the jewellery field was a collision of their love for fashion and art. Tshepiso went on to graduate in 2019 from Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School in Florence, Italy.
Hi, my name is Wanida Keeping and I’m the owner of Wanida Boutique
I grew up in the north of Thailand in small town call Nan. I grew up on the farm with my family making Thai silk with colorful fabrics. That and Japanese animation have always inspired me. I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer since I can remember, but back then only a private school in Bangkok offered fashion design and my family couldn’t afford it.
And so, I ended up studying nursing in Royal Thai army nurse school in Bangkok and that’s how I met my husband. We’ve lived in Cape Town since 2015. In 2019 I decided to follow my passion and my dream to start my own brand (Wanida Boutique). Wanida means beautiful or Beautiful woman in Thai. My designs remind us that we all have beautiful girl inside we just need to let her out, laugh and twirl like little girls and just having fun.
I make custom orders for those that really love my brand and honestly, it’s not about fashion it’s more about the style and I want my style to have longevity.