Mpumelelo Dhlamini was born with creativity flowing through his veins. Growing up surrounded by hard-working, fashionable women, this creativity was nurtured, cultivated, and has culminated into his luxury ready-to-wear brand, Ezokhetho. The brand name is isiZulu for “carefully chosen as being the best or most suitable”. Mpumelelo says, “Ezokhetho came about when I realised or rather discovered that I wanted to tell stories with clothing”. He is inspired by looking and valuing his surroundings: our cultures, sub-cultures, history.
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration for me comes in various ways. However, I would say the centre of it all is the modern African woman. She’s first her own before she’s anyone else’s. She is in charge of her own narrative. Rather than being defined by society, she defines herself. Fabric choices are based on whether they can interpret the message or not. Comfort is always key though.
What shapes contemporary culture?
With the pandemic, going forward I believe that we will start to value life. We need to put life first. The consciousness of taking care of ourselves and our surroundings will take the lead, now that we see how easily it can be destroyed and taken away. Also, we now see the importance of creating memories with our loved ones.
Do you think about environmental and ethical sustainability in design?
The aim is to become a zero waste clothing brand. To achieve this ideal, we have reshaped our garments to minimise waste. We also off-cuts as belt details and accessories such as scarves and more recently, masks.
What challenges do you face as a designer?
As a growing business, manufacturing can be a challenge. Also being a brand that works within the exclusive bracket, we don’t produce large amounts. We work around it though. Through experience we know who to go to for what. It’s about spreading out, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of those that you work with. The vision for the future is to create and produce in-house and only outsource for specialty skills/machinery.
Top 3 eco-brands that you are following right now?
La Falaise Dion (also known Queeen Of Cowries), Naked Ape and House of Lucent.
What’s next for you?
We’re working on a new collection titled ‘Batho Pele’ which means People First in Sotho and Setswana. It is inspired by current events, at a time when you want a sense of safety, belonging, comfort and identity. Your well-being becomes priority. That’s the feeling you find when you are home.
- Images supplied.
- To find out more about Ezokhetho visit the website.