On a scorching hot day, we travel to the Zola area of Soweto, a township south of Johannesburg in South Africa.
Despite the soaring mercury, the trip is worth it.
Zola was known to be home to some of South Africa’s greatest musicians including Brenda Fassie, Mandoza and M’du, as well as soccer players John ‘Shoes’ Lesiba Moshoeu of Orlando Pirates and Mongezi Joel ‘Ace’ Mnini of Moroka Swallows.
Now, it’s also home to a promising fashion designer.
The small town, with a rough population of 44,000, is where self-taught South African designer Zamaswazi Nkosi crafts his creations for the city’s catwalks.
Nkosi greets us by the corrugated gates of the entrance to his compound dressed in a blue golf shirt featuring an African print pattern – the same shirt he showcased at the South African Fashion Week (SAFW) Spring/Summer 2017. His pants complement the look, along with blue loafers and a white fedora.
Ushering us in, he politely offers to carry some of our equipment. The genial, soft-spoken Nkosi then shows us around.
His workspace, which was once a garage, is attached to his bedroom. Clothes hang on a rack next to the door. Two sewing machines sit at the corner of the room with fabric, needles and thread neatly stacked beside them. Next to them is a table where he irons his garments. You can tell he is a one-man army.
The wall on the opposite side of the room is filled with a collage of photographs, newspaper clippings and awards. A headline from The Citizen reads: “A daring designer”.
“My love for fashion started the day I had no clothes to wear,” Nkosi opens.
Growing up with a single mother and as one of six siblings, he was forced to improve his circumstances at home. He developed the art of restoration.
“It started with reviving the old to new. Sometimes I would take my sisters’ clothes and redo them so that I could have something to wear,” he says.
Little did he know at the time his innovations would one day be part of the fabric of high fashion in South Africa.
Nkosi began by sewing clothes using his mother’s old sewing machine. From there, he would piece together fabric lying around the house.
“I took my mother’s tablecloth, I stole it actually,” he admits.
Nkosi then crafted the tablecloth with a shirt of his to create an entirely new piece. He enjoyed reinventing things and it’s evident in the clothes he designs and puts together today.
However, Nkosi wasn’t always into fashion. On the wall with the photos, are also the trophies and medals he has won, not for fashion, but for football.
They all date back to the time Nkosi was into soccer. As a teenager, he was a midfielder.
“I was called ‘Teko’ from Teko Modise,” he says.
He imagined becoming a world-class football player in his 20s limbering up preparing for soccer war in the stadiums.
But that dream was shattered when an injury changed the course of his life forever.
This happened when he was 16, playing football in Soweto.
“I got tackled from behind. That was when my knee twisted,” he says.
He didn’t see a doctor, and continued to play. Only now does he regret not going for treatment.
“I thought that maybe if I felt better I could play. Only to find out that I was damaging it and it became worse. Then there was a point where I realized it was no longer working.”
Nkosi was devastated that he may never get the chance to play football again.
He was grieving the loss of his first love not knowing he would find something he would enjoy doing, again.
His sister consoled him and encouraged him to start something new. That’s when he did some serious soul-searching. After weighing his pros and cons, he started thinking of himself as a fashion designer.
“Being a fashion designer, it’s somewhat like a calling. Because I didn’t just wake up and decide to be one or be inspired by someone,” he says.
Fashion taking over his life came as some sort of divine intervention. He says he has never looked back since.
He accepted this calling and hosted fashion shows within his community, in Zola. It seemed the needle – in more ways than one – was turning in his favor.
His first show had only 10 people attending, but that did not discourage him.
Nkosi then attended a SAFW event with the hope he could one day showcase his work on the platform. He watched closely the designs of one of his favorite South African designers, David Tlale, on the runway.
“I told myself ‘no man, I can do this’.”
There was just one hurdle. He had no academic qualifications for the job.
“On big platforms like SAFW they normally require fashion qualifications like a diploma or anything that relates to fashion. So, as Zamaswazi, I had nothing on paper. I only had skill,” he says.
After countless rejections, he one day garnered the courage to speak to the founder of SAFW, Lucilla Booyzen. A nervous but determined 24-year-old Nkosi walked up to her after one of the shows.
Booyzen told Nkosi to do what he had already done before. “Just apply,” she said.
But Nkosi was not having it. The young boy from the township was determined.
“I was like, ‘no if you need paper [qualifications] and I’m dressing my own clothes and it’s proper, why can’t you let me showcase’?”
She then told him to come to her office and talk about opportunities. And the rest was history.
He had to prepare a proposal and showcase his work to a number of top fashionistas. It included creating a fashion portfolio, storyboard and designs of his pieces.
“It took me two weeks to even know what ‘portfolio’ is. That’s how I learned,” says Nkosi.
He was then shortlisted for the ‘scouting menswear collection’ in association with GQ magazine in 2015.
The platform brought his designs to life and Nkosi got his first break at SAFW.
Nkosi has showcased his designs at SAFW events, designing clothes for men that are modern with an African twist. His signature is the hemmed-in African print on to modern clothing. Much like the shirt he is wearing at this interview.
Nkosi relates this to his heritage and humble beginnings that forced him to merge different kinds of material into one. Unlike some of the other designers at sought-after fashion showcases such as SAFW, Nkosi says he designs and sews his clothes himself.
In his hometown Soweto, his friends and neighbors still can’t believe the boy who once played soccer swapped the ball for a sewing machine.
After the interview, he courteously helps us again to carry out our equipment.
Parked outside his house is his red vintage Beetle car with the word ‘Zamaswazi’ engraved on it. He bought the car last year.
Even though the engine doesn’t run he says he plans to work on it so he can do the six-hour drive to attend the annual Durban July.
The trendy man in the white fedora riding a red vintage car through the scenic green landscapes of South Africa to attend a premium horseracing event – it’s a pretty picture indeed.
From The Arab World To Africa
In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.
Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.
She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.
In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.
As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.
The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.
In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.
She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.
In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes.
Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty
In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.
The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.
Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing.
“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”
The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”
Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.
Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.
“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”
Covid-19: Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Cinemas Among Businesses That Will Operate Again In South Africa As Ramaphosa Announces Eased Lockdown Restrictions
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation announcing that the government will further ease the country’s lockdown restrictions.
Restaurants, beauty salons, cinemas are among the businesses that will be allowed to operate again in South Africa.
The country is still on lockdown ‘Level 3’ of the government’s “risk adjusted strategy”.
President Ramaphosa also spoke on the gender based violence in the country.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country. The killing of women and children by the men of our country. As a man, as a husband, and as a father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war that is being waged against the women and the children of our country,” says Ramaphosa.
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