words: Koketso Masuluke
With heritage day coming up on the 24th of September, there will be showcases of arts, culture, public history, nation-building activities as well as fashion throughout the month of September. Designers who are inspired by their heritage and fuse their cultural backgrounds into their designs will be capitalising on heritage month.
Storytelling has always been a part of our heritage. Our grandparents would huddle us around the fire in the still of the night, where the stars shone brightly and were used to illustrate the images of the stories they told us. We used our imaginations to draw images in the sky by listening attentively and losing ourselves in our imaginations.
Heritage is the practices and traditions that have been passed on from parents to their children. Cultural heritage on the other hand is formed by those things or expressions that show the creativity of people. These range from music, choreography, clothes, furniture, instruments, architectural design and style such as the ‘rondavel’, sculpture, painting, a cave dwelling or anything important because of its history, artistic or scientific value based on where and why these cultural sentiments need to be preserved and passed down.
The result of the preservation and passing down of our heritage has inspired buildings, fashion, music as well as automobiles of the 21st century. By simply teaching and passing down our various cultural heritages in South Africa, we have been able to continue telling our stories not just around the fire but on world stages, in our homes, as well as the toys we play with.
Heritage month is one that sees South African’s truly celebrate their diversity through their cultural heritage, telling a tale of how the country was dubbed ‘the rainbow nation’ We listed a few of the many designers whose designs were inspired by their heritage.
Siyanda Mbele is the founder and creative director of Pinda Furniture Design. A furniture and interior design company, driven by producing functional products with a high quality African aesthetic. His designs are inspired by the Ndebele heritage.
See more of his work:Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Sindiso Khumalo founder of ‘Sindiso Khumalo’ label focuses on sustainable contemporary textiles. She has developed a complex graphic language. She is inspired by the Zulu and Ndebele heritage. By observing the colourful patterning found in Zulu beadwork, Khumalo is able to create textiles by experiment with sizes, colour and composition in different materials in order to come up with a range of different fabrics and designs. Sustainability, craft and empowerment lie at the heart of the label.
See more of her work:https://www.facebook.com/sindisokhumalowomenswear/
Laduma Ngxokolo is one of Africa’s finest knitwear designer and innovator of the Xhosa inspired knitwear brand MAXHOSA BY LADUMA. With a desire to explore knitwear design solutions that would be suitable for the amakrwala (Xhosa initiates) traditional dress. As a person who has undergone the ritual, he felt that he needed to develop a premium knitwear range that celebrates traditional Xhosa beadwork aesthetics, using South African mohair and wool.
See more of his work: http://www.maxhosa.co.za/
Molemo Kgomo founded Ntombentle dolls after identifying the lack of pretty black dolls in the market which her daughter could relate to. Little did she know that in addressing that she would be answering the call of millions of other moms around the world who wanted their children to have dolls that represented them. They are dressed in apparel representing the following 8 South African cultures: Zulu, Sotho, Pedi, Swazi, Ndebele, Venda, Tsonga and Xhosa.
See more of her work here: http://ntombenhledolls.co.za/
Thabo Makhetha is a South African fashion designer specialising in women’s wear. She is best known for her range of winter capes inspired and made from traditional Basotho blankets, known as Kobo by Thabo Makhetha. She established her company Thabo Makhetha in 2009 and for the next few years positioned it as an exclusive boutique specialising in women’s wear.
See more of her work here: http://www.thabomakhetha.com/