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5 young South African designers to celebrate this Youth Month

It’s Youth Month, and in celebration of young people who are doing exceptionally well in their careers, we look at South African youth-led brands with a promising future in the fashion industry.

These are emerging designers doing amazing things that cannot go unnoticed. The list includes:


Owned by Thando Ntuli, Munkus is a luxury brand that offers ready to wear. They made their SA Fashion Week debut in April this year and won the New Talent Search after entering for the second time.

Ntuli is the epitome of resilience because after not making it to the finals last year, she worked harder this year and ended up with the grand prize of R45 500.

Her winning collection, “Sisendleleni,” was inspired by the journey to self.

“The whole collection is based on finding who you are, the best version of yourself and being able to express that through clothing, whether it’s layering up or taking it down. It’s an escape from the reality norms that allows you to be the person you want,” she says.

Fikile Sokhulu

With four years of experience in the fashion industry, Sokhulu seems to be on the right track.

During her final year at the Durban University of Technology in 2018, where she studied fashion and design, she made her SA Fashion Week debut and showcased under the DUT Rise of the OXX Fashion Show.

In 2020, she partnered with Mr Price to create a limited edition collection, and in 2021, she made it to SA Fashion Week New Talent Search finalists.

St Reign

St Reign is owned by Samkelisiwe. The accessory Designer Of The Year Nominee is an accessory brand that produces handcrafted bags.

The brand is known for its unique designs of bags made of locally sourced genuine leather.

Thando Simelane

Not only is he a musician, but Simelani is an avid fashionista. Seeing a gap in the market, he decided to make traditional Zulu sandals known as “izimbadada” using sustainable materials.

Izimbadada is usually made of car tyres, but because he’s edgy, Simelane uses old Nike AF1 and other old sneaker soles to make the trendy sandals.

In 2019, he partnered with fashion designer Chu Swannapha to have his sandals paired with the designer’s garments at the Durban Fashion Fair.

Mantra Africa

Owned by Nongcebo Mchunu, Mantra Africa is a South African brand that uses fashion to tell the stories of black people.

With only four years in the industry, the Estcourt-born designer has already showcased at Durban Fashion Fair 2020 and the Creative Africa Nexus Festival 2021. Her designs are inspired by the Zulu traditions.

“Being from eMachunwini, I want to celebrate my people, the Amabhinca, in a very modern way. Something that is authentically African but can also stand on a global stage,” she says.

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