Thula Sindi: It’s all about Sophistication, Elegance, Femininity and Timelessness
Thula Sindi is one of South Africa best known young designers. Sophisticated, elegant, chic, feminine and timeless adequately describe his creations that graciously adorn the female form in all its facets, both young and matured. Not one to sit around and wait for inspiration, Sindi is constantly documenting his sketches and design concepts in what he describes as a ‘virtual vault of ideas’ he can tap into when its time to produce a new collection. If his 2011 Autumn/Winter collection is a benchmark for judging his efforts, then Sindi made a bold statement that cannot be ignored.
Born in Klersdorp, Northwest Province, Sindi’s primary interest was in fine art but at 16, he caught the fashion bug and has never looked back. “I found fashion a perfect medium to mix colours, concept and proportion and the immediate and dynamic nature of the fashion business was another factor that attracted me to it”, he says. Sindi, 28, is a graduate of the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg, and studied at the London International School of Fashion (LISOF). His first job was head designer at Dutch textile company Vlisco, a day after he graduated.
Inspired by the modern woman, her needs, how she chooses to dress, express herself and navigate her complex life, Sindi says it is the “complexity that inspires me to create items of clothing which enhance and streamline her lifestyle.” He does not tell a lie – his collection at the 2011 Joburg Fashion Week was a commemoration to femininity and critics say it “transported womanhood to its origins of tenderness, softness and grace”.
Sindi’s work has graced many runways including Hong Kong, Beijing, New York, Lagos and Paris, where he had his first show in 2007. His participation at the Couture Fashion Week in Paris led to his nomination as one of the top 10 emerging designers in the FIMA: Afrique est la mode pan African fashion contest. Sindi says his runway show in Paris remains the highlight of his career because “It was the time and place where I solidified my aesthetic and found my voice as a designer.”
His effortless style has seen him featured in leading magazines and websites across the globe, from Vogue online to Haute Fashion Africa. In September 2011, he embarked on a new journey and a much coveted feat, signing a distribution deal with Edgars Stores, one of South Africa’s leading retailers. His runway designs are now available to a bigger clientele in stores across the country. In a country where capital for growth and cash-flow for sustainability remains the biggest challenge, Sindi explains he stays on top of his game by “doing what is authentic to me and my customer, be it fashion or collaborations with a major retailer like Edgar’s. It’s all organic growth and governed by the greater plan for my business.” Sindi adds that the secret to being successful in South Africa, highly regarded as Africa’s fashion capital, is to ask yourself: (A) ‘Who am I making these clothes for?’ (B) ‘Why would somebody want to buy these clothes?’ (C) How can I get this client I’m appealing to, to know about these clothes?’ If you answer those three questions honestly, you will be well on your way to building a successful design enterprise.”
When asked if his recent partnership has the potential to dilute his brand. Sindi said: “My partnership with Edgars is a distribution partnership. I still 100 percent create, manufacture and merchandise my product.” It is no wonder his creations continue to exude effortless style and the confidence of a young designer. Sindi’s goal to create collections for an urban sophisticated woman, which is both editorial and wearable, is alive and strong.
Thula Sindi recently unveiled his latest collect at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Johannesburg.
Images of Models: SDR and African Fashion International