The fashion and modeling industry, just like other industries is feeling the pain amid the COVID -19 pandemic and resorting to developing digital solutions. With modeling work at a standstill, for the most part, newcomers like Sejeng Mashoene are bearing the brunt of the lockdown restrictions due to the pandemic and the biggest surges in infections currently in South Africa.
At the beginning of the year, barely two months into modeling, Sejeng was booked and busy! She secured a booking with an amazing pan-African fashion brand, Maryzo Designs to showcase their new clothing range. A few days later she was announced as a finalist for Miss Regal International South Africa 2020. Subsequently, she was in a pageant production with Mrs South Africa 2018, Nicole Capper. On the very same day at the pageant production, she got a call from her agent informing her of a call back for an ad campaign that she could not attend due to the clash. A few days later, she received confirmation from her agent that she had been booked for another print media ad campaign which she shot a few days later. Shortly thereafter, she was offered an opportunity to be a model trainer and scheduled to start at the beginning of April 2020. But then the unexpected COVID – 19 pandemic occurred globally, forcing the world to come to a standstill in the middle of March 2020.
As the country reported more and more cases of COVID-19 throughout March, this meant that photoshoots and castings had to be postponed or cancelled altogether. Just as she thought that her new career was flourishing, Sejeng’s plans became increasingly unstable.
“When the Coronavirus made its way into the country, my modeling career that was literally taking off had to come to a halt. To be honest I was crushed! After struggling with unemployment, I finally had something in my life to look forward to, but all that had to a pause,” says Sejeng.
Currently, South Africa is on level 3 lockdown regulations which means that the rules are now more relaxed, compared to level 5 and more than eight million people have returned to work. However, the economy has taken a hard knock and still at the early stages of recovery. But things are not the same and everyone is adjusting to the “new normal”.
As hard-hitting as this may be, Sejeng remains optimistic. “What keeps me positive during these uncertain times is interacting with my fellow Miss Regal finalists. I’m keeping in touch with my agency through videos and live sessions on Instagram providing insight with the way forward in the modeling industry during the pandemic. In my own time, I continue doing pageant training with Stride to keep me prepared for the pageant. I have also joined a lockdown campaign with 4ourth Roc clothing where I shoot indoors wearing 4ourth Roc gear. Being creative, learning new skills, staying informed, updated and being open-minded to change in order to adapt is really what has kept me sane during these indefinite times,” she says.
Going forward, Sejeng has learned and is finding new ways of pursuing the modeling space virtually. She is adapting to self-taped castings which are a great time saver. “This is something that can really assist in the future even when the pandemic is over. I do have hope that my modeling career will still take off with the same energy after the pandemic. I can’t wait to get back to the buzz again! I’d like to work with big brands in the industry. For now, though, it’s all about creativity and adapting to change.
MORE ABOUT SEJENG
She is an Economics graduate, a passionate teacher, a model signed to Rage Model Management, a model scout at Opulent models and a Herbalife entrepreneur. She was raised by a single mother in a township called Lebowakgomo in Limpopo and attended a multiracial private school in the city of Polokwane.
Before venturing into the modeling industry, she obtained a BCom degree in Economics and Econometrics at the University of Johannesburg, with the intention to pursue an honours degree the following year. Unfortunately, that did not come to pass, due to unforeseen circumstances. She tried seeking employment with just the degree but was unsuccessful, in the year 2017. Her mother suggested that she study teaching by doing a post-graduate certificate in education, and she did. Upon completion, she worked as a temporary teacher at a school in Midrand – north of Johannesburg. After her contract expired, she continued looking for employment while modeling for her cousin who is a photographer, to assist him with his portfolio. That is where the spark began. As she searched for modeling inspiration on the internet, she came across a post by The Model Academy, inviting aspiring models to a workshop. She booked and attended the workshop and thereafter attended two courses offered by the academy until she received the certificates. She then took the decision to sign with Rage Model Management in November 2019. In February 2020, her career as a model began… And…SHE IS THE NEXT MODEL TO WATCH!
Diane Nkoa (20) is a Cameroonian fashion designer based in Tunisia who is advancing the approach of women and menswear. Her designs challenge the often-narrow rules that accompany Tunisia’s fashion by creating evolving, provocative, implicit yet comfortable clothing. Diane’s design aesthetic has an emphasis on superior construction, movement, textures, strong silhouettes, and innovative technics.
Whether you love discovering new clothing lines, wearing ‘It’ pieces before the masses, or shopping brands that others are less familiar with, emerging designers such as Diane are well worth your attention.
In December 2019, she officially launched ADN by Diane to exhibit her work as a fashion designer. “I wanted to finally showcase my work after being scared for a while to publicly put the title of ‘fashion designer’ next to my name. I am glad that I actually did it! Now, my brand is really doing well, more than I expected.
Currently, young people are drawn toward the fashion industry for the way of life it represents. For Diane, the fashion bug bit her quite early! “I started designing clothes when I was 13 years of age. After High School, I received a scholarship to study fashion designing at ESMOD Tunisia, where I’m currently still studying. They offer topflight programs in design and business to cover the full range of the fashion industry’s demands,” she says.
She describes her design aesthetic as; “Sometimes I’ll describe it as minimalist and sometimes extravagant; I cannot quite put my finger on it! So, I just do whatever comes to mind. I just love expressing my creativity. The inspiration behind my designs is everything around me. I could be staring at a tree and find inspiration,” she says.
According to Invest in Tunisia – The Textile & Apparel Sector in Tunisia is positioned as a cornerstone of the Tunisian industry and keeps a prominent place in the national economy while maintaining a strong contribution to the socio-economic balance of Tunisia
“The fashion industry in Tunisia is really thriving! Some European brands make their clothes in Tunisia and I really like how fashion designers incorporate the Tunisian culture into their designs. However, I do not align my brand with the fashion trends in my country because I want to create new trends. Some Tunisian designers focus their work on wax, which is good but not innovative for the current fashion era,” she says.
Diane looks up to fashion designers such as Anissa Meddeb, who is originally from Tunisia, born and raised between Tunis and Paris. In 2016, Anissa launched her label Anissa Aida – The brand is a mix and match of inspirations from Tunisia and Japan, both cultures rich in heritage and traditional craftsmanship. I love how minimalist her style is. Internationally, I am inspired by Iris Van Herpen because her clothes and fabric are daring and thoughtful. She is a Dutch fashion designer known for fusing technology with traditional Haute Couture craftsmanship. She opened her own label Iris van Herpen in 2007,” she says.
We asked her to describe the inspiration behind two of her designs and this is what she had to say:
“For this design, I drew inspiration from Laetitia Ky, an artist based in the Ivory Coast, who makes unbelievably inventive sculptures with her hair. She just needs some wire, thread, and her own hair. I wanted to make a dress using wire, but the final dress was not what I drew at first. The first design was straight and not circular. Because the wire came tied circular, I just decided to use it as it was, instead of straightening it. For the lingerie underneath, we had just learned to do it at school and I just wanted to practice,” she says.
This design was inspired by my absolute love for lingerie! That’s why I chose to study it this year. I think that lingerie is too beautiful to just be worn as an undergarment. The garter belt is the perfect accessory to make clothing look sexy. I made a corset, and a pair of shorts that can be lengthened if wanted and added a shirt to make it classier.
Diane’s plans to grow her brand include collaborating with industry role players.
“I plan to do fashion shows; collaborate with other brands and concentrate on identifying innovative fabrics for my brand. Ideally, I would like to build an established brand that would one day become a form of reference for innovative and eco-friendly fabrics. My wish is to see icons wearing my brand and for ADN to be a style movement that showcases Tunisia’s talents,” she concludes.
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The South African fashion industry, like many other industries globally, is currently going through a rough time. However, this industry has generally been flourishing over the years, with many fashion designers establishing their own labels and clothing boutiques mushrooming everywhere. This has created healthy competition and we are in awe of the grand design garments that we see displayed.
This feature celebrates a fashion designer and boutique owner, Siyamthanda Celeste Bottoman who took the plunge and left her stable job as a Phlebotomist to pursue her love for fashion, a year ago. Growing up she had a keen interest in fashion designing, but always thought venturing into the science or medical field would be more financially rewarding.
While working at a local private hospital – Netcare Blaauwberg in Cape Town, she found the courage to start an online store selling bags and accessories. Surprisingly, the stock was sold out in one day, which made her realise that the business had great potential and that it could be lucrative in the future. To date, she is a flourishing boutique owner with a flair for fashion.
“When I could no longer manage the demands of both my work, the business, being a mother and wife, I decided to resign from my job. I had to make a choice to venture into business on a full-time basis, seeing that it was growing beautifully. So, I started customising clothes and restructuring my business such that walk-ins and other businesses in clothing could also buy in bulk from us,” says Siyamthanda.
This bold move gave birth to L’mad by Celeste, a clothing boutique that offers a wide range of customised clothes for infants, kids, women, and men. They offer customers a choice of buying from their customised catalogue or tailor-made. Their custom-made clothes vary from street swag, African print, urban, simple, elegant and luxurious garments. L’mad by Celeste are always on the edge of the latest trends. You’ll find an eclectic mix of designs for any occasion.
Siyamthanda is a fashionista in her own right who is as dashing and colourful as the wardrobe she designs and curates. With her collection, you can expect remarkable cuts, fascinating prints that are reasonably priced. She has a keen eye for fashion and her fearless style and boldness in her creations are what make her brand stand out.
Siyamthanda has also expanded her business and has established a section where they customise school and work uniforms, homeware from beddings, curtains, cushions and also manufacturing these items for other shops.
“I aspire to be a very successful entrepreneur who will inspire and help other entrepreneurs one day. I have so many ideas written on my diary that I would like to turn into business ventures someday in property and logistics. For now, I’m focusing on learning more and building my own business. I am firm believer that with God on my side, nothing is impossible in life! Looking back, I have come a long way and I’m grateful about the decisions I’ve made. Moving forward, I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and with time, patience, perseverance, focus, I am surely getting closer to my destination,” she concludes.
Art has always influenced fashion, but when designers move beyond references and subtle nods and instead work directly with artists, truly extraordinary and original work is created. Such collections occupy an exciting new space where the two fields meet, standing not only as works of art in their own right but as fun, highbrow sartorial offerings that allow designers to create beyond the normal realms of fashion.
The fashion world is constantly clamouring
for collaborations left and right, breathing new life into its products by
incorporating another creative’s vision.
While many of us consider fashion an art form itself, both industries continue to collaborate to forge deeper creative conversations. Painters, illustrators, and photographers have become important contributors to the fashion industry, their input often adding instant value to a collection. The direction is often set by the designer and fuelled by a mutual appreciation of each other’s work.
In this feature, we shine a light on The Julian Art Fashion, a ladies wear collection, which is a collaboration between established local fashion designer Julian and select South African contemporary artists represented by Art Eye Gallery. The artists they currently work with are Thokozani Mthiyane, Trevor Coleman, Toni Bico, Kobus Walker and Lionel Murcott. Julian established his label in 1986 and is widely supported by loyal clientele for his understated style and exceptional craftsmanship.
Fashion and art each require precision, imagination and an
in-depth understanding of colour and shape. This is perhaps why the two crafts
often collide in a professional sense. When fashion and art collaborations do
occur, masterful products and designs will usually ensue.
The Julian Art Fashion clothing collection is developed into a modern African interpretation fashion of the colorful rainbow nation. Artworks are selected from artists paintings and using sublimation printing the artwork is then printed onto fabric. The collection pays a royalty to the artist on clothing that is sold using their artwork.
Various fabrics are used in different weights throughout the collection, quality is of utmost importance and they ensure print retention for a prolonged lifespan since the items are uniquely individual (no two items are exactly alike). This range has an exclusive and collectable feel as opposed to chain store mass produced fashion items. The exclusive artist prints, garment silhouette and finish set the brand apart, the sizing is a slim fit perfectly suited to the active lifestyles and toned bodies of their customers.
“Art and fashion have always been parallel to one another; fashion has a crush on unusual and outrageous prints that create alchemy by mixing wild colour and texture. We as local designers should celebrate and create a symbiosis of our rich and abundant local artists and their immense talent collaborating with these artists in creating exciting and totally South African products. Fashion art will become unique collectible items and precious pieces. Fashionistas are no longer interested in mass-market reproduced clothing, they want rare garments that tell a story,” says Julian.
Cynthia Barnett once said; “True, the sun and the wind inspire. But the rain has an edge. Who, after all, dreams of dancing in the dust? Or kissing in the bright sun? This resonates with how in her late teens, Nomfundo Basini decided to name herself Liyanna. The name symbolizes rain and is significant to her birth and is a reminder ‘as her mother would relate to her’, how the day she was born turned from a scorching hot day to suddenly rainy. Because rain is a common natural occurrence vital for life and rebirth, the name encapsulated the young woman she was becoming.
Liyanna B, is a beautiful, smart, confident, self-aware and empowered model, a gender-based violence activist, and a foodie. Although new in the professional modeling industry, she has booked many modeling gigs, worked with several designers and has been featured in various magazine editorials. Liyanna was born in the beautiful Kingdom of Swatini, later she moved to South Africa with her parents and has over the years also established roots in Mpumalanga. She currently lives in Cape Town where she’s pursuing her modeling career.
But most importantly, she has quite a keen interest in the environment and those around her. To this end, she will be venturing into sustainable fashion by officially launching The Sustainable Runway (TSR) on the 4th of March 2020. TSR is an online sustainable luxury thrift store. According to her, the goal of the brand is to reduce waste, stop poor labour conditions and to encourage a healthy free and flourishing ecosystem.
“We’ll be selling timeless pieces that have graced the runway as well as off the runway clothing. We would also be selling luxury donated clothing that has been upcycled to promote conscious and mindful sustainable living. Our aim is to source sustainable items created by upcoming and popular sustainable conscious fashion designers, who have showcased on runways to donate them towards TSR and my foundation, ‘The Liyanna B Foundation’ towards the end of each year. A percentage from the sales made will go towards the foundation, to help aid women and children, she says.
“Our objective is to build communities, one’s s that can develop efficiently and still promote flourishing ecosystems, which ensure that mankind and all kind can live in healthy earth, and one that is free from global issues,” she says.
Fashion isn’t necessarily the first word you think of when you hear environmentally friendly and ethical right? You might not be surprised to find out that the fashion industry is, in fact, the second ‘dirtiest’ industry in the world following oil. For many of us, fashion is something we love. Some people live and breathe it, can’t get enough, and others, nonchalant and couldn’t care less about it, but either way, we all wear clothes.
“I love fashion and it’s no surprise that I fell in love with modeling, specifically couture. With the mind of minimalism staples and being the founder of an NGO, I felt that I not only needed to make a change in the lives of women and children, but also in my life and career. It’s like a child, you may love them but when they act out of character or are harmful, they should be called to order. The people and the environment as we know and “love”, is, unfortunately, going through trauma. The fashion and modeling industry has been responsible for 5% of man-made CO2 emissions since 2015, more than aviation and the oil business combined. How awful is that? And for the longest time, the industry has not taken accountability. Beyond that, the industry only recycles 20 percent of its fabric, while most of its manufacturers, packages, transports and sells at a cost that serves unlawful to the environment. We are buying more clothes than we are wearing and repairing them or not at all. Thus, the birth of The Sustainable Runway! I’m only one person, one woman, but I do believe that South Africa needs to participate in what is currently happening with climate change and its disasters. It is not only overseas as we so absentmindedly talk amongst ourselves. It is here, it is in Cape Town and the whole of South Africa. I don’t know how many seasons we go through per day here in Cape Town, which is unusual,” she elaborates.
Liyanna says that she would like TSR to become one of the most successful online sustainable luxury thrift stores of its kind. “I would like to see the venture playing a role in promoting a flourishing ecosystem, fair labour for the families who break their backs just to put food on the table and clothes on their children’s back. I would like to make a change, and I will be making a change, by starting a conversation on how to make the world a better place for us and the next generations, through fashion. It would give me great satisfaction for TSR to be at the forefront of pioneering awareness in the amount of pollution caused by the fashion industry. It would mean the absolute world to me to know that I used my platform, no matter how narrow or small it might look,” she concludes.