Twyg is honoured to announce the finalists of the Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards 2020. The awards celebrate South African designers leading sustainable, ethical, circular and regenerative practices in the fashion industry. The designers are intentionally improving fashion’s relationship with nature and people and show that fashion can be at the forefront of positive ethical, social and environmental change.
The winners will be announced on 19 November 2020 and when the Changemaker Award winner will be awarded R100 000 in prize money sponsored by Country Road.
Here they are in alphabetical order:
Kwanga Qusheka is currently a fashion student at Design Academy of Fashion in Woodstock, Cape Town. He is determined to help change the fashion industry. For his brand, KQ_Made, he produces avant-garde, edgy streetwear. He says, “It is not determined by trends but quality. I ensure that my selection of fabric best suits what I am trying to achieve as a designer which is quality.” Kwanga’s preferred fabric is hemp which is a regenerative and earth-friendly natural fibre. Kwanga also likes that it has a touch-friendliness on human skin.
“I really love the journey I took during the garment construction of this collection, as it allowed me to create neat panel lines, fitted structures and apply fabric paint.”
- Use of hemp
Emily Mcmahon is a student in Cape Town, not of fashion, but of business and has founded her fashion label, Loskop, on a made-to-order model. She calls it a slow, streetwear brand. Emily says, “This means we take pre-orders for a certain period of time and only produce once we have closed our orders. We operate this way as it is far more sustainable – we have little waste as we make the exact amount of garments that are being bought.” With the little waste fabric that is created, “we make scrunchies or other smaller once-off items.” Loskop also offers a rental service for festival attire. Emily says, “We believe by incorporating this rental model into our business, we promote the circular economy model which seeks to move beyond fashion’s linear model of take, make and waste.”
“We avoid using imported fabrics in our collections and try to support local fabric manufacturers first and foremost. We want to make a change in our local fashion industry,” says Emily. All marketing is done through Instagram.
- Zero waste
Twenty two-year old Alex van Heerden is a 4th year fashion and textile design student at Durban University of Technology. Alex’s fashion journey began later than most and only after she realised that teaching wasn’t her passion. In 2019, Alex developed Vanklan, her third year project that questions the conventions of fashion and presents an unconventional form of fashion sustainability. Alex employed artisans at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust to help with her project. Using recycled fabric scraps they made 38 bunnies, which Alex hand stitched onto a jacket. She says, “I believe that this jacket is a walking visual representation of the non-profit organisations’ work, whilst simultaneously addressing the world’s landfill issue.” The collection includes garments made from old pillow cases and other thrifted items from the Kloof & Highway SPCA. “When designing, creating and sewing these garments I hoped that they would challenge and address the throwaway culture present in our society today,” says Alex. “One of the many reasons I love fashion is because it allows me to combine two of my greatest passions; the environment and making a difference by doing something that I love and enjoy”.
- Hand stitching
- Social impact
Innovative Design and Materials Award
Anmari Honiball began her eponymous clothing brand in her living room in 2014. A year later, she moved to a bigger studio space where she and her seamstress handcraft every piece from beginning to the end. This allows for “precision design with minute attention to detail unachievable through mass manufacturing”. Anmari says, “My brand strives to overcome the drive for fast fashion by challenging the way in which stereotypical design dictates a garment’s use and circumstances of wear. In doing so I aim to amplify the dynamic use of each garment, extending the product’s purpose and lifespan.” Anmari uses natural fabrics sourced for quality, comfort and durability that allow for extended wear and lifespan. She says, “Extreme attention is paid to the sensory experience produced by the material. I would say that I collect ‘fabric feels’”. To Anmari, the feel and fit of her garments when in contact with the skin is as important a part of the design as the shape, colours and style thereof”. The design process is up-cycle orientated. “Each collection incorporates bits and pieces used in the production of previous collections thereby generating layers of continuity between collections and our work as a whole”. By doing this, Anmari minimises waste. Unusable off-cuts are used by an organisation to stuff or craft other products.
- Hand craft
- Natural fibres and offcuts
- Minimal waste
Lara Klawikowski is a fashion designer and illustrator based in Cape Town. She launched her eponymous brand in 2010 and has since focused on avant-garde wedding dresses and wearable high-art womenswear using unusual materials and textures created by hand at her studio. As a small brand, Lara finds it difficult to source sustainable fabrics, as there is little or zero information available about the origin of fabrics sold in local fabric stores. She says that of the most part “fabric and materials used for bridal and occasion wear are synthetic – pure plastic”. And, given that a wedding dress is worn once, the bridal scene is an extremely polluting industry.
For her recent bridal collection, ‘Strange Flowers’, Lara implemented small sustainable changes. The collection consists of bespoke upcycled designs created from recycled materials, re-fabricated by hand. Visually, the collection is inspired by the unpredictable and unusual, organic textures and shapes of flowers and plants. Lara says, “Since a wedding dress is one of the only times someone makes an effort to investigate every detail of what they are wearing, a custom-designed wedding dress made from recycled, upcycled materials, re-fabricated by hand promotes the appreciation of slow fashion”. She used plastic refuse bags and plastic bags, which says are an ideal material, as there is transparency about their origin printed on the bags. “The name of the manufacturer is printed on the bag, it’s clearly stated that they are made in South Africa, from 100% recycled materials and that they are recyclable. This simple transparency makes the plastic bags a better choice than most bridal fabrics found in local fabric stores.” [photo: Nina Zimolong @nina_zimolong]
- Minimise waste
Sealand Gear makes handmade, durable bags using recycled material. The brand, founded in 2015, is grounded by a passion to protect the environment. The Sealand Gear team led by Jasper Eales, brings inspired design to upcycled material. They use up-cycling sails, advertising banners, and b-grade reject materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. According to Sealand Gear, “Up-cycling mitigates any type of additional processes and resources such as water, labor and electricity, which represents sustainability in product and process at large.” The Sealand Gear, based in Hout Bay, implements with internal promotions and non-discrimination policies to take care of the wellbeing of staff.
- Minimise waste
The Sewing Café
Founded in 2012, The Sewing Café is a non-profitable initiative that is not only a professional CMT with pattern making and sampling but also a producer of small to fairly large runs. In addition, initiative trains unskilled and unemployed people from Masiphumelele and Ocean View. Over the years they have taught many people to sew, some of whom now have their own small businesses, some continue to sew for the Sewing Café on a part/full-time basis and some have become employed in the sewing sector. The Sewing Café runs an afternoon sewing club where Masiphumelele High School kids from grade 8, 9 and 10 learn to sew.
The Sewing Café produces women’s wear, school uniforms, children’s clothing, underwear and homeware. The SO GOOD products are made from recycled materials and sustainable fabrics and are made by the graduates of our skills training course. The CMT and design studio as well as our ‘SO GOOD’ products enable the initiative to train, support small businesses and teach our high school sewing and design club. During the pandemic The Sewing Café designed a ‘Covid Coat’ using discarded advertising banners.
In July, The Sewing Café, launched MIN, an in-house women’s clothing brand which aims to provide minimalist basics for women made from sustainable fabrics as much as possible.
- Natural fibres
- Social impact
African Renaissance Designs
African Renaissance Designs was founded by Siphelele Ntombela, a textile designer from KwaZulu Natal. Siphelele’s designs are inspired by the richness of South African culture, celebrate the aesthetic traditions of the Nguni tribes and tell African stories to inspire people to embrace their African heritage. African Renaissance Designs uses mohair as its signature material which is locally sourced and dyed in the Eastern Cape. Siphelelo says, “The brand is committed to uniqueness, quality, longevity and cultural consciousness.” The brand’s Nguni Collection was inspired by the Nguni tribes (Zulu’s, Xhosa’s, Ndebele’s and Swati’s) of Southern Africa. Siphelele says, “The inspiration came from different experiences from these different tribes and how divided the Bantu people are in today. In history these tribes were living together in harmony and the similarities in traditional customs and how they dress roots from one origin. The split of these tribes happened when Shaka Zulu was in power and wanted to rule over the kingdoms of Nguni tribes caused other tribes to flee from the kingdom. The attempt of this Collection is to reunite the Nguni tribes through fashion by taking elements of each tribe and creating garments representing each tribe.”
- Local, natural fibre
- Cultural sustainability through storytelling
Founded by Mikael Hanan in 2018, FIELDS is a contemporary menswear clothing brand based in Cape Town founded by Mikael Hanan in 2018. Its approach is to be both environmentally and economically sustainable. FIELDS uses locally sourced natural fibres to craft luxury garments. The wool used is Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) as well as OKEO-TEX Standard 100 certified. The mohair can be traced back to the source and is mulesing free. More than 85% of our cotton is sourced as sustainable through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).
The brand explores the different aspects of a man’s identity and creates products that journey with men from home to the workspace and from the streets to the outdoors. For each season, FIELDS has collaborated with African artists. Mikael says, “Crafted in sustainable, natural fibres sourced in Southern Africa, FIELDS showcases the high quality our yarn and factory partners bring through their manufacturing.” Every order with FIELDS is placed in a BCI cotton tote that is made up in overrun fabric from our garment production. All pants purchased in store are accompanied by a complimentary shortening service. Reasonable repairs are always welcome.
- Natural fabrics
- Repair service
Having grown up Inspired by his mother, grandmother and trendy aunt to dress like the gentleman they said he is, Tshepo Mohlala founded Tshepo Jeans in 2015. The brand’s manifesto states that it is committed to the development of denim, through the promotion of Africanism and localisation. It honours denim’s ability to stand the test of time by honouring the past, acknowledging the present and designing with the future in mind. Tshepo creates desirable and functional items that consumers value and enjoy for a lifetime. As well as its ready-to-wear collections, Tshepo Jeans produces a bespoke range, promoting slow and timeless fashion. The design process is transparent, to ensure accountability at each stage of production. Cotton is sourced from Zimbabwe, dyed in Japan using old indigo dying techniques that were originally created in Africa. Denim products are created in the brand’s atelier, in Victoria Yards in Johannesburg.
Tshepo Jeans currently employs about 15 people: “I’ve always looked at working with something that has a purpose. something that’s going to still be worn and lasts for the next 50 to a 100 years. Something that will outlive me. Truly embodying timelessness. Denim is a fabric that achieves this. Our jeans also become a part of you and your story. And through our jeans your story will always survive.”
Beagle + Basset
Beagle + Basset is an eco-conscious design studio, passionate about the ancient practice of natural dyeing using plant matter. They collect usually discarded raw materials like blue gum bark and avocado stones. Genna Shrosbree says, “It was only a couple years ago that I became curious about the ancient methods of extracting pigment from plants. I have always been committed to building a business that embodies sustainable, eco-conscious, small batch production through natural techniques”. Genna likes to use natural linen because it’s made from flax, a crop that requires very little fertiliser or pesticides, and uses substantially less water and energy than the production of other fabrics. She only extracts colour from fallen matter, so the colours are based on the plants that are being discarded at the time, seasonally. She says, “It’s not about creating a colour palette, but more about what is provided by nature itself, that I can repurpose and give another life to.”
- Natural fabrics
- Natural dye
- Hand work
The Seen Collective
The Seen Collective, is a group of women who make knitwear and jumpers for all seasons. Founded in 2017, the collective consists of designer Steph Mundy and a group of talented women living at the Gerard Fitzpatrick House and nursing home in Johannesburg. The house provides a home for destitute, vulnerable and frail elderly women. Working from Steph’s designs the talented knitters are able to knit from their rooms, or in communal areas. They meet weekly in the community room. By the time a cardigan or jumper is finished it has passed through many sets of beautiful local hands. It is not just about the finished product, it is about the process. The Seen Collective uses locally sourced a kid mohair and merino wool blend which is then dyed by women in the Eastern Cape. The yarn comes from the Karoo, where it is hand spun and hand dyed by an all-women rural-based business in the Eastern Cape. The benefits of the work of the collective go far beyond financial. Steph says, “Every member of the collective has discovered a new sense of purpose and pride in producing the work as a group. The Seen Collective places value on an age old skill done to a high level.”
“We ask their customers to make a conscious choice to buy less and buy better. This is the very antithesis of fast fashion. The pieces are an investment, designed to last a lifetime.”
- Hand craft
- Local and natural fibre
- Social impact
VIVIERS Studio is a concept clothing brand that produces limited editions and made-to-measure. Founded in 2019 by Lezanne Viviers, VIVIERS offers a unique experience to building a wardrobe. Fabrics are sourced from warehouses that have been sitting with deadstock from the 70’s, which was made with integrity, the qualities of the fabrics are exceptional and made to last. Viviers aims to minimise textile waste by individually hand-cutting our garments, re-using off-cut fabrics to innovate new collections. They focus on creating trans-seasonal and versatile pieces that are made with integrity. The quality and the longevity of garments take priority at VIVIERS, by not only discarding trends, but by also carefully selecting the best quality raw materials to start with. Lezanne says, “We strive to create timeless objects of beauty that are worth repairing and worth investing in. We invest hundreds of hours into our creations, even though it could be made from single-use plastic, as we celebrate and value both the skills of the person who makes the garment and the materials used to create it.”
For this nomination, VIVIERS Studio submitted its refashioned upcycled plastic trench coat, which reimagines plastic as a scarce resource. Lezanne explains, “We worked with single use, ‘Disposable Sterilization’ medical fabric that was pre-used in hospitals. This Fabric is made specifically so that it can be used in Autoclave Sterilizers; it is a non-woven synthetic fabric that has great microbial and dust barrier properties. Our material choice honors doctors and nurses saving lives in our hospitals, but also captures a zeitgeist where medical masks have become the new normal in streetwear. We also selected plastic from our recycle bin at home. Woven plastic bags that are strong enough to carry wood, were combined with U-Cook Ziplock bags and computer packaging. We selected these specific plastics for both their strength, functionality and off-course, aesthetic qualities.”
- Waste minimisation
- Use of deadstock
- Hand craft and artisanal
Ivy Nhlapo makes jewellery and accessories out of can tabs from cans, which she crochets together. She says, “I’m doing my bit in terms of saving the environment by upcycling tabs on the cans to make usable and fashionable accessories out of waste materials.” She sources her tabs from a recycling plant where the majority of the staff are people who have mental health disorders.
- Hand craft
The Matsidiso shoe brand was founded in 2017 when co-founder Jinae Heyns left her marketing career and identified the potential in her mother-in-law’s shoe factory. The brand’s vision is that through their ethically made shoes, they will have the opportunity to help build the South African economy. The shoes are made from leathers and fabrics sourced where a relationship with their suppliers and understanding of their processes is mandatory. They use vegetable tanned leathers. Inside the factory, Matsidiso has created a product built to last. “This means using components that are as natural as possible”. They use vegetable tanned leathers for the soles, a recycled resin for the heel caps, and make use of local woods for the heels.”The wood is Knysna blackwood which is an invasive species in Knysna’s national forests. Jinae says, “We provide end-to-end customer care by offering our customers free repairs on their shoes.”
- Use of vegetable tanned leather
- Repair service
The Wren Design
The Wren Design was founded in 2008 by Wendren Setzer, after she resigned from her job as a textile designer at a clothing factory. Her new career as an entrepreneur began when she decided to put her design skills to use and made her own bag. For over 12 years, Wren has taken ordinary paper and reimagined it. Wren fuses paper and fabric to be durable, fold and stitch, and coat to be water resistant. Paper is first, reclaimed paper waste, recycled second and new certified paper from FSC accredited suppliers as a last resort. The paper is sprayed with an environmentally-friendly, non-toxic coating that makes the surface water resistant, oil resistant and dirt resistant. Natural fabric
comes from Zimbabwe, Italy and India or it is 100% recycled fibres. Wrendren Setzer says, “Wherever possible we choose the sustainable option, and where there is no alternative, we commit to investing in research to find an option that is in line with the company’s sustainability policy and goals.
- Natural fibres
Chic Mamas Do Care
For 10 years, mamas from around the country have stood together to make a bigger impact. By donating pre-loved good quality clothing or shopping at Chic Mama outlets or participating at their events you can become active citizens. They have created a way to promote a circular economy, where nothing goes wasted. They host swap shops. To date, they have distributed more than R7,5 million mostly to early childhood development. During hard lockdown this year when the schools were closed our donations went towards feeding those children that no longer received their daily meal at school. This made for an incredibly, transparent & simple way for our supporters to give back and to know exactly where their contributions went. Be part of the solution!
- Social impact
Convoy is a collaborative retail space, established in the Bamboo Centre in Johannesburg in 2015 and shared between South African designers who each bring their design aesthetic to a shop space, and more recently an online platform as well. The design mix found at Convoy include Heart & Heritage, Hannah Lavery, Anmari Honiball, Isabel De Villiers African Style Story, Chiefs of Angels, Merwe Salt, Sitting Pretty, GOOD Clothing, Raw Collection, The Herd. The designers combine their networks and ideas to create a retail space that reflects how their brands are perceived by the market. Working as a collaboration, they are able to afford better retail space, create their own outlet as opposed to relying on others, support each other as business owners and motivate each other in growing their individual brands. In addition the designers collaborate on internal and external events to the store and join forces in marketing.
- Local design
Founded in 1998, Mungo is foremost a homeware natural fibre textile company. All Mungo products are designed, woven and finished at their weaving mill in Plettenberg Bay. It has stores around the country where it sells its product.
Mungo endeavors to help shape and uphold the standards of sustainable production in a non-industrial environment. Each step of its production process is respected and considered – from the fibres and raw materials, to the people that weave the product to life. Mungo products are woven to last, standing the test of time, rather than designed for fleeting conspicuous consumption. Radical transparency, sustainability and traceability underpin much of the work done at Mungo, and is evidenced by the Mungo Mill – a visually astounding building that is open to the public 7 days a week. Here visitors can reconnect with how the goods we use are made, and in turn develop an appreciation for the skill that goes into a finished product. Pursuant to their sustainability objectives, Mungo
launched their first-ever 100% organic cotton towel, the Aegean, in 2019. Woven from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton, the Aegean evidences Mungo’s commitment to operate sustainably, and to continually look for ways to innovate in line with respecting the human and natural environments in which they operate – alongside the ongoing work of their CSR, MOVE.
By introducing organic textiles to the local market, Mungo hopes in turn to increase the demand – which will hopefully lead to more conscious purchasing decisions and ultimately the growing and harvesting of organic cotton in Southern Africa. Following the launch of this product, in February 2020 the Mungo Mill in Plettenberg Bay, where all Mungo textiles are designed, woven and finished, was audited in alignment with the rigorous standards of GOTS. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the foremost processing standard for textiles produced from organic fibres, set against rigorous environmental and social criteria along the entire textile supply chain. In June 2020 Mungo received its certification, thereby becoming South Africa’s first GOTS-certified weaving mill.
- Organic cotton
On social media the Swazi-born model and activist Nomfundo Liyanna Basini is known as Liyanna B. When she is not shooting covers, she chairs the Liyanna B Foundation aimed at spreading awareness and helping survivors of gender-based violence. She also manages the online platform the Sustainable Fashion Runway (TSR) where she shares advice on building a sustainable wardrobe without breaking the bank. Her family has been the biggest influence on her life and it is through them that she has learnt thrifting, patching, mending, and swapping.
“Black and Brown folks have always been sustainable, it’s not a foreign concept, if anything it’s been a way of life from the beginning of time for many of us.” Liyanna B.
Johannesburg-based stylist, fashion activist, and changemaker Yasmin Furmie supports local designers and is Thebe Magugu’s muse.
For the #PlasticFreeJuly campaign this year, she says, “The South African landscape blooms with plastic waste. What are we doing to lessen the ever present reminder that our environment and our daily presence on this planet is predicated upon waste production. It’s a gargantuan task to look at what needs to be done globally, but let’s see how each one of us can be part of a movement to lessen the use of single use plastics , to make an effort to consume less , to be aware of what our fabrics and it’s production are doing to the environment and to be part of an economy that uses its resources in a creative manner.” “Let’s all be part of a recycle, reuse, reduce and repair community. There’s beauty in the waste so let’s applaud the designers who’ve shown us the possibilities in this very concept of reusing and recycling,” says Yasmin.
Singer-songwriter Freshly Ground and social and environmental activist Zolani Mahola says on her Instagram, “ I am in love with my world. Our world. I want my children’s children’s children to enjoy its beauty and splendor… When we are aware of how our consumption affects the health of our Earth and therefore our own health we think twice about all we use and throw away”. Zolani is increasingly lending her voice to connecting people to nature, and to drawing attention to environmental issues.
· The Twyg Awards have been audited by Elisabeth Makumbi.
· The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
· The winners will be announced on Thursday, 19 November in Cape Town.
Feature Image: Lara Klawikowski dress photographed by Michael Oliver Love @michaeloliverlove featured in Africa is Now magazine @africaisnowmagazine