Tuesday, September 6, 2011


About a year ago I met a lady by the name of Romy Stander, who runs a small business, making bags out of recyclable materials in collaboration with underprivileged women in Diepsloot. Her label is called “State of the Nation” and how wonderful her bags are.

Romy Stander, clutching a bag from her State of the Nation label

This past Sunday, David Tlale opened the doors to his first store at Sandton’s Michelangelo Towers Mall and reminded those present that we, too, as Africans are talented. “We need to start believing in our own,” he said. When someone on Twitter tweeted about legendary British designer Vivienne Westwood’s gravitation towards “African”, sighting her new collection of bags made by women in Kenya, out of recyclable material I remembered one of the campaign pics, in which Westwood is surrounded by a number of those bags which are no different to the bags Romy and the women in Diepsloot make, Tlale’s words came back to my mind. I also thought of a huge ad inside my local Woolworths store which reads something like “fashion designed for you in New York”. Well, something along those lines anyways. When I first saw it I was absolutely shocked. It’s probably good for their marketing but I was taken aback by what, in my mind, perpetrates the idea that what is local is inferior. You might think I’m being slightly pedantic here, but really, such things often slightly raise my temperature as I think of how our inferiority complex impact negatively on the local industry. Soon, people will wear those Vivienne Westwood bags proudly, because, one, it’s an international luxury brand and, two, they’ll feel like some sort of slacktivist whose money has not only gone to Westwood’s purse but also to those poor women in Kenya and, three, it’s all recyclable, baby. Two ticks for social responsibility. Do add another tick by recognising that on your doorstep, Westwood’s concept has been done! We’ve been having it!
Click on the pic to link to the State of the Nation website.

1 comment:

Thando said...

I agree with you fully there, we are quick to fall for the African inspired and ignore the African made. Speaking of Woolies marketing... I also did'nt understand the decision behind Zoe Kravitz being the face of RE. I agree, she is stylish. But I think majority of SA dont know her, unless you are a fashion insider, she's an unknown.