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Sandton City puts sustainability at its centre

by | Apr 2, 2021

Walking through Sandton City’s Diamond Walk you won’t miss the new exhibition of designer installations. Showcasing paper bag designs by Franz Gräbe and garments designed by some of South Africa’s top fashion designers, the exhibition is intended to celebrate and recognise the shopping precinct’s sustainability achievements.

The opening of Fashion Reimagined: Sustainability Designer Showcase on Global Recycling Day, followed the announcement that Sandton City has been awarded a six Green Star Rating for Existing Building Performance by the Green Building Council of South Africa. This is the first super-regional mall on the African continent to achieve this rating, the highest rating, for its environmentally sustainable operational efficiencies.

Lezanne Viviers, far left, of VIVIERS Studio arrives for the opening with her team

The 14 garments on exhibition were created by Gert-Johan Coetzee, Fundudzi by Craig Jacobs, Hangwani Nengovhela from Rubicon Clothing, Lezanne Viviers from VIVIERS Studio and a recycled and recyclable plastic bag dress design by Lara Klawikowski, who won two Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards 2020: the Changemaker Award and the Innovative Design and Materials Award.

From left, Craig Jacobs, Jackie May, Gert-Johan Coetzee, Hangwani Nengovhela and Lezanne Viviers

Craig Jacobs, creative director of Fundudzi, exhibited three garments, each representing his fascination and respect for natural fibres. There is banana fibre and hemp, and most notable is the dress (below) made from 100% South African cashmere, which Craig helped develop. Craig remains determined to celebrate artisanship through carefully crafted garments and accessories which serve to tell African stories.

Craig Jacobs creative director of Fundudzi

VIVIERS Studio has two garments on exhibit. Created for the #PlasticFreeMzansi 2021 campaign, the trench coat is made from repurposed and sterilised medicinal, electronic and UCOOK waste, which was laminated to protect messages of optimism. These messages were created from rearranged newspaper stories published during the national COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 as a silent protest against fear and negativity.


Designer Lezanne Viviers’ second design is an upcycled fishing net dress which juxtaposes netting from the fashion industry with old fishing bait bags and fishing net that she says, “we collected on the beach along the West Coast”. The design is asking us to question what these two important global industries are doing about their waste and pollution. What can be prevented, repurposed, minimised and recycled in an attempt to help save Mother Earth? Did you know that as much as 70% (by weight) of macroplastics (in excess of 20cm) found floating on the surface of the ocean was fishing related? This is according to a report in The Guardian.


Gert-Johan Coetzee has presented a few garments including one adorned with recycled glass beads, another with cruelty-free ostrich feathers and one is a recycled ball gown.

Gert-Johan Coetzee 

Hangwani Nengovhela’s Rubicon Clothing capsule collection is inspired by the Mapungubwe National Park world heritage site. The designer’s muse is the re-imagined Queen Mapungubwe, whose sartorial style is accentuated by Hangwani’s use of biodegradable natural fibres like cotton twill to create an art form that is expressed on the garments.

Hangwani Nengovhela’s Rubicon Clothing

Lara Klawikowski’s dress from her Spring Summer 2020 Strange Flowers collection is made from recycled and recyclable plastic. Lara says this collection “was inspired by the current global insistence on growing awareness of what we wear, what our garments are made of and who made them, and the emphasis placed on choosing to wear garments that are least harmful to the earth and humans”.

Lara Klawikowski

The exhibition sponsored by Sandton City and Peroni, draws attention to the precinct’s tenants that no longer offer customers single-use plastic shopping bags. Instead they have switched to re-usable paper shopping bags. Flower couturier Franz Gräbe crafted the exhibition’s paper designs. In addition to using the paper bags from the relevant stores, Franz created designs for the sponsor – Peroni – using the brand’s fully circular packaging.

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The brands involved in the paper bag drive are Poetry, Skin Cosmetics, Lindt, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, Factorie, Roberto Boticelli, Damat, Grand Prix and Nicci. Here are Franz’s designs for these brands:

One of Sandton City’s sustainability strategies is the acquisition of two recycling vending machines which efficiently recycle plastic, metal and glass; turning the items into recyclable waste. These are for customers and in return for recycling your waste, you receive points on the Imagined Earth app which can be used towards purchasing shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.


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