LOICE Dube with models, Natanya Chetty and Loren Jenneker.

AFI Fastrack Prize Winner, Loice Dube's Global Dreams

Buhle Mbonambi 

As applause rang out around her, a shocked Loice Dube widened her eyes, her hand flying to her mouth. A few seconds earlier, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe had announced her as the winner of the AFI Fastrack Prize Young Designer of the Year.

And now it was sinking in. She was getting a standing ovation, embraced by the models who had just showcased Lo'Ice's winning looks.

Her fellow finalists joined the celebration, their genuine warmth a testament to the camaraderie fostered by the AFI Fastrack incubator programme.

This emotional moment marked the culmination of Lo'Ice's incredible journey and the exciting future that lay ahead for the South African fashion brand.

Just days after her win, Dube is buzzing with a mix of excitement and determination.

In an interview with AFI, she said winning the AFI Fastrack Prize is more than just validation; it's a springboard that propels Lo'Ice onto the global stage.


What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during AFI Fastrack and how did you overcome them?

I encountered several challenges, including time management, creative pressure, and gaining industry knowledge.

More than anything, Fastrack honed my ability to manage time effectively, enabling me to juggle multiple projects and meet deadlines constantly. It also pushed me creatively, often requiring quick turnaround times for concept development.

These experiences taught me to think on my feet and leverage available resources to generate robust, innovative ideas. Additionally, industry knowledge was essential for successfully completing projects.

The valuable opportunities to interact with industry experts, who helped clarify complex information and guided us in applying this knowledge to our work.

Looking back, what are some key takeaways or lessons you've learned that will be valuable in your future design career?

Developing a strong sense of accountability. As a creative and a business professional, I learned the importance of taking my business seriously by maintaining financial stability and implementing credible costing and pricing methods.

A key lesson for me was to approach my design work with a business mindset, understanding that a sustainable business requires a solid financial plan to ensure long-term success.

How was the experience presenting to the judges? Was it nerve-wracking, or did you find it an enriching experience?

I was admittedly very nervous, knowing the judges had extensive and reputable experience in our industry. I wanted to ensure I presented my story accurately and convincingly.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by how well I handled the pressure. The multiple presentations we had done with the Fastrack mentor, Khwaza Tshisela, were invaluable.

She emphasised the importance of being articulate and clearly understanding our grand story, which made discussing it second nature. This preparation helped immensely. The judges provided immediate feedback during the session, offering valuable insights and first-hand reactions to the products we were presenting.

What sets you and your brand apart from other young designers in South Africa? What's your unique perspective?

Our tagline, "from the soil to the streets," encapsulates our mission to integrate core African values and beliefs into contemporary fashion and streetwear. The bold use of prints and patterns inspired by African cultural elements reflect a deep connection to our heritage while appealing to modern tastes.

What sets us apart is the merging of streetwear's urban, casual aesthetic with the sophistication of high fashion, creating pieces that are both versatile and wearable across various settings. 


Winning the AFI Fastrack Prize is a fantastic springboard for your career. What are your long-term goals as a fashion designer?  

My goals include global recognition for the brand as I’ve always reiterated throughout this journey. I see myself with customers as global consumers, people who are not only in south Africa but global citizens. Therefore, my aim is to penetrate the global market. I believe that there is an appetite for that South African flavour, and I want to capitalise on that hunger for an African aesthetic.

What exciting projects or ventures can we expect from you in the near future?

I believe in striking while the iron is hot. My plan is to launch a spring/summer collection that will coincide with the launch of a full website, the primary goal for the brand is to enhance accessibility for our customers, making it crucial to establish a retail presence. We aim to create a space where we can interact with our customers and allow them to experience and engage with our products firsthand.

The AFI Fastrack Prize Ceremony being held at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange sent a strong message. How can young designers navigate the business aspects of the fashion industry?

It's crucial to educate yourself thoroughly on business fundamentals specific to fashion, such as pricing, supply chain management, and marketing strategies. These are key pillars that keep any business functioning.

Building a strong network within the industry provides invaluable contacts and opportunities for collaboration, and that is the kind of space that AFI has created throughout Fastrack. 


Having come through the programme, I believe mentorship is key in building any career. There is no limitation to learning from those who have mastered the craft. I also strongly believe in creating a detailed business plan because it acts as a roadmap outlining the brand's vision, target market, pricing structure, and financial projections.

I think that having an outlined plan of any nature keeps one accountable to the business.

Lastly, I believe that establishing a distinctive brand identity is equally important to differentiate oneself in a competitive market, and that is something I believe AFI has helped me solidify.

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