Katekani Moreku who was brought up in a small village in Bushbuckridge in the north east part of South Africa is as surprised as his family that he has become a fashion designer. Welverdiend is not a place where art and design are considered career options. But it is his place of birth that has in fact influenced the work of this final year fashion design student at Durban University of Technology.

Katekani is inspired by his SePulana culture and by the South African artist Walter Battiss’ method of borrowing elements from other art forms. As part of the traditional attire, the SePulana culture combines scraps of fabric and plastic material.  “I have a few homeless friends who helped me collect fabric scraps from a clothing factory’s rubbish bins. I used these for the linings and I collected the plastic sacking from the rubbish bins at my school residence,” says Katekani about the work featured here.

“With my interest in the conversation about slowing down fast fashion this seemed like a good opportunity to express my opinion about sustainable fashion. Everything just fell into place when I made the collection.”

We asked Katekani a few questions. Here are his responses:

My ultimate goal is to build a platform for communication through artistic fashion, I want to address serious issues through my work. I want to help spread awareness and educate society on making conscious decisions.

I use fabrics that can be used creatively and that are affordable. This is why I re-use unconventional material. Upcycling suits my design style.

Growing up I couldn’t afford new clothes except at Christmas when my mother managed to gather up some money, usually for school uniforms. As I grew older I bought cheap second-hand clothes which helped me discover my style and my love for “re-using” in an industry dominated by fast fashion.

I’ve never been a fan of trends, probably because I can’t keep up. But I think we should create sustainable fashion fast, anything that is imbalanced will eventually collapse. I think it’s everyone’s duty to keep our environment healthy and we should stop taking from it irresponsibly.

We have neglected sustainability in order to make sales. South African fashion seems to be evolving and there are a lot of young designers interested in making the fashion scene a sustainable scene.

Lately I’ve been loving the work of Craig Green, Thorn Browne, Bethany Williams, Christopher Raeburn, Leandi Mulder, Sizwe Mbokazi…. I am enthused by their use of colour and the type of materials. I think they are doing amazing work.

My biggest influence is my grandmother who has influenced my thinking process and is still able to spark ideas and constantly reminds me to use my surroundings to create.

Images supplied: last one is a portrait of Katekani