Sindiso Khumalo: Pushing Boundaries and Empowering African Fashion Through Sustainable Textiles
Sindiso Khumalo: Redefining Success and Advocating Sustainable Fashion
By Ranji Mangcu
Women have always been drivers of culture – space-makers, building networks and transferring culture through every avenue available to them.
From rectifying informational gaps about African fashion, to enacting the infrastructural development of African fashion industries through collaboration, what is apparent across the board is a commitment and renewed sense of priority to building a connective fashion industry, driven by collaboration and investment in the collective.
This year, African Fashion International is celebrating the women who are driving African fashion both on and off the continent, from all corners of the fashion system. Braving the apocalyptic realities of the world – from regional wars to climate and inflation crises – they are driven by visions of the African continent’s fashion futures.
From business and journalism to design and curatorship, women continue to move against the rules and limits of individualism, tokenism, and glass ceilings to demonstrate the boundless possibilities of success and value-creation in the fashion industry.
One of these women is the globally renowned fashion designer, Sindiso Khumalo
Following her MA studies in Textile Futures at Central Saint Martins, Sindiso Khumalo made waves as the joint recipient of the 2020 LVMH Prize. She has since worked with developmental agencies, including the UN’s Ethical Fashion Initiative, driving her purpose-driven brand to household-name status in South Africa and globally.
In conjunction with its storytelling, a key part of Khumalo’s mission is to drive sustainable textile development. Through her collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, Khumalo works alongside weavers in Burkina Faso to produce hand-woven fabrics.
This aligns perfectly with the broader positioning by African fashion labels – such as Lagos Space Programme and Lukhanyo Mdingi – of textile development and Africa’s artisan economy as a means of creating value in the African fashion system.
At the forefront of Khumalo’s collaboration with Scandinavian retailer, & Other Stories, is the sustainable textile designer’s drive to bring an African story to a global audience.
The Summer ready-to-wear pieces embracing the Cape Town-based label’s signature Victorian embellishments, also balanced soft, pastel shades against bold, saturated hues of orange, green and yellow. Through it, Khumalo continues to build a contemporary aesthetic through an homage to 20th Century Black women from across the African continent and diaspora.
Produced through sustainably sourced, organic, and recycled cotton and linen, the collection sets structural frill linings and her distinct take on the vintage Bow-neck collar, against loose, delicately playful silhouettes.
At the core of it is a hybridity of references, where the label’s embrace of Victorian elements cannot be divorced from her homage to her Zulu Ndebele culture, and her home of KwaZulu Natal.
Amongst a multitude of things, this is what not only distinguishes the Sindiso Khumalo brand, but makes it globally resonant.