Major boost for ‘home-grown’ leather accessories brand
FASHION designer Tiisetso Molobi will exhibit her luxury mud cloth bags and camera straps at this year’s Sanlam Contemporary Fair this weekend. Joburg-based Molobi is the founder of Urbanmosadi, a brand she launched in 2012 which specialises in leather accessories with an African accent. I chat to Molobi about her brand and what the exhibition means to her. Tell us a little about yourself ?
I was born in Soweto 36 years ago to loving parents. I am mother to a feisty six-year-old-girl and someone who enjoys art and street culture. I have a passion for textiles from our African continent. As an artist, what inspired you to be where you are?
In a traditional sense, I wouldn’t call myself an artist; I am more an observer of cultures and I wish to preserve the beauty and history of certain African textiles that are untouched by the influence of colonialism. West African textiles in particular, like mud cloth and kente, are inherently African and carry a rich history. When did Urbanmosadi start and what was the motive behind starting it?
Urbanmosadi started off as a personal blog in 2007 that later evolved into a visual documentation of my travels to interesting locations, brands and people within those places. In its later years, it focused heavily on the local street culture of myJoHo (Joburg). My interests led me to studying photography in Cape town, where I was interested in customising my camera strap. I gravitated towards the kente fabric because I grew up seeing it around our home. I decided to make it a business when my friends started showing a big interest in what I was doing. Before, I knew it, I was making more straps for friends, and the client base grew organically from there. What does exhibiting at the Sanlam Contemporary Fair mean to you?
This is a big deal for the brand. I attended the fair for the first time last year. The minute I walked around the fair, I asked myself, why I wasn’t here exhibiting? I guess, my silent question/ prayer was heard, as earlier this year I got an e-mail from the curator, Cassandra Twala, inviting the brand to take part. This is our first-ever exhibition and it’s a high bar to start on locally. What can people expect from you at the Sanlam Contemporary Fair?
I want people to interact with the exhibition space that I will be putting together. I want to create an experience that translates visually with one’s past and future. I will also be launching brand-new textiles, clothes and homeware products. What makes you really stand out?
Well-crafted products that preserve an African aesthetic. Positioning African textiles, mud cloth and kente as pure luxury is my biggest goal. What advice would you give to young people who don’t get much support realising their dreams?
They have to invest in themselves. Do the research and learn the rules before breaking them. Seek to know the history that informs your story/dreams.
Urbanmosadi will be exhibiting at the Sanlam Contemporary Fair from today until Sunday.
AFRI-COOL: Urbanmosadi backpack.