Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

What Heritage Day means to South African designers

- THOBILE MAZIBUKO thobile.mazibuko@inl.co.za

HERITAGE Day is one of the biggest holidays on the South African calendar. Celebrated annually on September 24, it pays tribute to the cultural wealth of the country, recognisin­g its diverse cultures and traditions.

Three South African fashion designers shared what the day means to them.

Aretha Doyle, the founder of Cool Tabs Accessorie­s, celebrates Heritage Day every day with her unique accessorie­s.

Her love for recycling shines through with their sustainabl­e bags made of cool drink can tabs.

“South Africa is a diverse country with several cultures. Cool Tabs Accessorie­s does not only make handmade recycled products, but our products are modernised traditiona­l accessorie­s, some inspired by our African traditiona­l bead neck pieces.

“Cool Tabs products can be worn with traditiona­l outfits. Our bags look very cool with Xhosa attire (umbhaco). These bags can be worn with anything, you can dress them up or down. That simply means that any culture can be easily accommodat­ed,” said Doyle.

What she loves the most about being a South African is the indigenous cultures, different types of food and how our traditiona­l houses are built and painted.

“I love that it can be expressed in different art forms like music, dance, art, sculptures, beadwork and traditiona­l attire. Our traditiona­l customs beliefs, and methods have existed for a long time and haven’t changed.”

With the help of IFW Business, Doyle will be showcasing in Zurich next week, and since this will be her internatio­nal debut, she hopes the internatio­nal market loves what South Africa has to offer.

“This is the first internatio­nal show for Cool Tabs Accessorie­s, so we expect lots of exposure. Through the years of existence, we’ve gained many internatio­nal clients, some buying to resell.”

Jacques Bam of the BAM Collective, raised in an Afrikaans home, said what he loves the most about South Africa is that it is one of the most diverse countries in the world.

“The melting pot of cultures and peoples creates interestin­g art and beautiful conversati­ons, and I think it’s a great day to celebrate that. To celebrate different people and learn from their experience­s, which I always find as something that builds my creativity.”

The vibrancy and the positive spirit of South Africans have inspired Bam in his craft because he always has them in mind when making clothes.

“I love the people who surround me, I love my life and being with people who come from different cultures with different religions and different sexualitie­s, and I think that’s what has become my heritage and what I learn from them.

“If I grew up in a different country, my whole personalit­y and how I look at myself would’ve been completely different.

“When it comes to infusing our heritage into my craft, everything I design is for South Africans first. Diverse as we are as a country, one thing that unites us is that we have

a joy for life and the vibrancy to our spirit that is very unique to our country.

“We love to have fun, we love to dress up, we love colour, laughing, and making jokes. That’s what I love about South Africans, that we can socialise with anyone.

“That’s what I do with my work, I try to infuse that spirit and love for life in designs, which tend to be colourful, vibrant, experiment­al and not too serious.”

Bam will soon be heading to Milan to showcase his upcoming collection as a preview ahead of the South African Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 24 this October.

For Caileigh Davis of Silver Magpie, Heritage Day is a day that showcases uniqueness in culture.

“It is also a way to educate and learn more about different cultures and heritages. I think as much as it is a day that is proudly South African, it’s also a great way of learning cultures and showcasing the uniqueness in each of them.

“Something that interests me a lot about Heritage Day is learning about different clothing people wear and food that is unique in their heritage.”

Although Davis is from South Africa, she was born to non-South African parents, making her feel like an outsider.

“As a South African with a unique culture – my mom was born and bred in Zimbabwe, my dad is from the UK and travelled a bit before his family came to South Africa – I’ve always felt like an outsider in certain cultures, and as I get older, I’ve tried to learn as much as I can.

“Something that interests me is the fabricatio­n of different cultures and heritages, and as a South African with parents who weren’t born in South Africa, I try to find my unique element of being South African.

“Something I like about my heritage, which is British-Scottish, is the uniqueness of the Scottish culture and how each family has a tartan that is unique to their clan, which is something you see in South Africa with the fabrics that different cultures use.”

Davis enjoys using African fabrics in her craft.

“When I look at my heritage and how I use it in my craft, I think fabricatio­n is a very big one for me. As much as I love the idea of using standard fabric, I enjoy the idea of using fabric around making my own prints and grabbing on to my elements of heritage. I love using West African prints, South African shweshwe.”

 ?? ?? HANDMADE bag by Cool Tabs Accessorie­s.
HANDMADE bag by Cool Tabs Accessorie­s.
 ?? ?? SILVER Magpie.
Eunice Driver
SILVER Magpie. | Eunice Driver
 ?? ?? THE Bam Collective.
THE Bam Collective.

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