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Interview with Sindiso Khumalo: fashion that gives voice to those who have no rights

The collection inspired by Harriet Tubman

By Fabiola Graziosi, Giulietta Riva

The voice of those who still have no rights, the greatest dream of Sindiso Khumalo is to give work to as many African women as possible. A collection of admirable ideals and a collection that speaks for itself.

We virtually met the designer and asked her a few questions.

The SS21 collection is entirely inspired by the extraordinary figure of Harriet Tubman. How did you decide to build an entire collection around the  idea of a single character?

The collection is inspired by Harriet Tubman. Harriet was born into slavery and as a child worked on the farm picking cotton. She went onto to free herself, and then returned back 13 times on the underground railroad to free over 70 slaves from the deep South. Risking her life every time. Philadelphia was the place where slaves would have crossed the land into freedom and our video is shot in an area called Philadelphia in  South Africa.

The collection speaks to the childhood of Harriet, named after her childhood name “Minty” and featuring beautiful hand illustrations from Cape Town artist Shakil Solanki. The illustrations of the cotton plants that Harriet would l have picked as a young girl and the Philadelphia Fleabane which would have been the first wildflower she would have seen when entering freedom land, are all echoed in collars and in prints in the collection. Also its about her reclaiming the land and also reclaiming her childhood.

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Un post condiviso da Sindiso Khumalo | Designer (@sindisokhumalo)

Sustainability, craftsmanship and female empowerment are the heart of your brand. How do they bond with each other and remain strong themes in each of your collections?

Every season we work with various artisans in Burkina Faso and South Africa, in a number of social upliftment projects. I also try to also use as many sustainable materials in our collection.

From architecture to the world of fashion, what triggered the dynamic of change?

I love Architecture, it was my first love. But when I was working at Adjaye Associates in London, I very quickly realised that I was cheating on architecture for fashion magazine. So I moved towards my passion. The two disciplines are very similar and also very different, I feel my approach to my work is always informed by my years spent in Architecture.

Why the choice to show in Milan? What drives you to this fashion capital?

Milan has always been a special home to the brand, for the last 4 years CNMI have supported our brand and really allowed us to grow. Also there's such a heritage of crafts in Italy, that really resonates with the brand. I absolutely love showing in Milano.

Can you mention the first thing you think about to get inspiration for a new collection?

Women. They are always the greatest inspiration.

What is your professional dream/aspiration?

To build a fashion brand that both will empower as many women from my continent as possible.

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Un post condiviso da Sindiso Khumalo | Designer (@sindisokhumalo)




Image: Sindiso Khumalo Press Office