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.

Nomvula Liyanna Basini
Clothing/ Styling: Andrea Ruth
Photography: Andrea Ruth
Hairstylist: Kelvin Kadambura

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.