Sindi Serape winning the AFI Fastrack Prize in 2019.

Sindi Serape: From AFI Fastrack to the Forefront of South African Fashion

Buhle Mbonambi

Imagine a young designer's sketch, filled with potential but raw.

Now, picture that sketch stepping off the page and strutting down the runway at Cape Town Fashion Week, transformed into a collection that captures the zeitgeist and sets the designer on a remarkable trajectory.

This is the story of Sindi Serape, a rising star in South African fashion who has translated his vision from sketchpad to the pinnacle of the industry.

Sindi Serape x Name Brand x AFI Fastrack 2019

Born and raised in Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa, Serape is a fashion alum from the Cape Town College of Fashion Design.

His creative spark ignited early, and in 2019, it culminated in him winning the AFI Fastrack Prize’s Young Designer of the Year Award during Cape Town Fashion Week.

Serape’s winning collection was inspired by the uniforms of 70s South African youth who were fighting for change. He infused these uniforms with an athleisure twist, making a bold statement that was both politically charged and commercially astute. This unique blend set him apart from the other finalists and propelled him to victory.

Sindi Serape acknowledging applause at the AFI Fastrack Prize 2019 showcase at Cape Town Fashion Week

Five years later, we catch up with Sindi Serape to hear about his remarkable journey, the impact AFI Fastrack had on his career, and his advice to the next generation of South African design hopefuls.

Winning the AFI Fastrack Prize wasn't just an award; it was a launchpad for his career.

"Fasttrack is a well-structured initiative within the South African fashion industry, designed to nurture young talent," he said via email. “Fastrack provided me with invaluable resources and mentorship and opened my eyes to the intricate workings of the fashion world.”

Sindi Serape x Name Brand Showcase at Cape Town Fashion Week

Since winning, his career has been a whirlwind of creativity and collaboration. He's lent his talents to renowned brands like MaXhosa Africa, where he currently works as part of the senior design team, and Tshepo Jeans.

"These experiences have been invaluable in shaping my career and expanding my professional network.”

His heritage is woven into the very fabric of his designs.

"Being African and black naturally influences my designs," he declares. “It goes beyond traditional patterns and textiles; it encompasses storytelling and understanding our cultural roles. My aesthetic has evolved through experiences in travel, consultancy, and continuous learning. This has broadened my perspective and enriched my journey in the fashion industry.”

Sustainability and ethical practices are also at the forefront of Serape's vision as a designer. He recognizes the need for a robust fashion ecosystem that empowers entrepreneurs and prioritizes ethical sourcing.  "For the fashion industry to thrive," he argues, "a comprehensive ecosystem involving governance, support, capital access, and market exposure is crucial."

This commitment extends beyond materials and manufacturing. "Sustainable practices must include relief programs for entrepreneurs, ensuring security during times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic," Serape emphasises.

He advocates for government or private entity initiatives to support creatives. 

"Empowering freelancers enables them to contribute significantly to the economy by creating jobs and innovative solutions," he explains.

Looking back at how his career has grown post the AFI Fastrack Prize, Serape recognises the immense value of incubators like AFI Fastrack.


"For young talent entering Fasttrack, my advice is to engage with your peers and remain curious," he urges. He sees the potential for Fastrack to become an even bigger powerhouse for nurturing African design talent, like the LVMH Prize.

Sindi Serape's journey is a beacon of inspiration for aspiring designers. His dedication, coupled with the opportunities provided by AFI Fastrack, has propelled him to the forefront of the South African fashion scene.

With his passion and talent, Serape is sure to continue making waves in the years to come.

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