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Macaque Jacket from Sheila-Madge Designs | Courtesy of Sheila-Madge Bakker
Macaque Jacket from Sheila-Madge Designs | Courtesy of Sheila-Madge Bakker

Eclectic Fashion Designers From South Africa You Should Know

Picture of Carina Claassens
Updated: 3 April 2017

These designers are making waves in South Africa’s fashion circles – you’ll be seeing much more of them in days to come.

Alexia Hechter / WOL Ontwerp

Based in Mpumalanga, South Africa, Alexia Hechter specialises in wool-based designs under the label WOL Ontwerp. She draws inspiration from her family’s wool-bedding business and creates sleepwear from 100% natural fabrics. Her designs are, however, not strictly for sleeping – the beautifully created pieces are loose-fitting and can easily be worn as casual wear.

Bespoke pieces by Alexia Hechter

Beautiful bespoke lounge wear by Alexia Hechter | © Jana Steinberg

Janine Turner / Turner

Janine Turner creates unique children’s clothing and her latest collection, Chimera, is inspired by Icelandic folklore. While researching the history of folklore she was captivated by the art of felting and started creating seamless garments using 100% merino wool roving. Janine hopes to blur the lines between clothing and art, while at the same time addressing social issues, such as the impact of our choices on the environment.

Janine's latest range for children

Janine’s latest range inspired by Icelandic folklore | Courtesy of Janine Turner

Jenevieve Lyons

Jenevieve Lyons is a Cape Town based fashion designer whose creations speak to the fashion conscious consumer. Her menswear collection, Deferential SS17, is simplistic but incorporates the clever use of colour, pattern, texture and detail, such as drawstring trousers. Jenevieve represented South Africa at Helsinki Fashion Week, Finland in 2016 and her custom-made and made-to-measure garments offer the consumer much more than the average retail store.

Deferential Spring/Summer 2017 Campaign | ©Steve Marais

Deferential Spring/Summer 2017 is simplistic yet extremely detailed | © Steve Marais

Lukhanyo Mdingi

Lukhanyo Mdingi’s label aims to show a sense of cross-cultural influences of traditional designs and has a modern outlook on African heritage. He produces finely cut and refined pieces that are distinct and powerful, but with a timeless elegance and sophistication. The latest collection, Purgation, captures the intricate patterns and rich hues so evident in the South African landscape, and Mdingi feels that it is evidence of his growth as a fashion designer.

SS17 Purgation Collection

The SS17 Purgation collection has a rustic narrative | © Kent Andreasen


The LUMIN team, design-duo Amy Liu and James Barrett-Poulsen, create minimalist, modern, women’s wear proudly made in South Africa. Their latest range is inspired by the avant-garde principles of iconic Japanese designers. The black colour palette is brought to life through the interesting use of texture, and depth is created through thickness and transparency of fabrics. What stands out about this range is the focus placed on details such as pleating.

A dress from the Autumn Winter 2017 collection

An striking, androgynous piece from the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection | © Andrew Berry

Nicholas Coutts

Cape Town fashion designer Nicholas Coutts specialises in textured garments and creates contrast through fabrication. His latest collection of one-of-a-kind garments is influenced by the arts and crafts movement of the 1800s. These exclusive, highly textured, woven and knitted items are in direct contrast to his sophisticated and comfortable designs which emit functionality and elegance.

©Kyle Weeks

The eye-catching pieces are created by combining different textures and colours | © Kyle Weeks

Nicole Smith / Peyton Cole

Nicole Smith, working under the Peyton Cole label, designs minimalist pieces with a subtle approach to colour. Her latest range, Memphis, is inspired by the Memphis design movement of the 80s as well as the designs of fashion icon Alexander Wang. Colour and shape cleverly combined with clean lines and simple designs lead to the creation of this exciting collection.

©Marisha Nieuwoudt

A white base balance the loud colours and prints characteristic of Memphis | © Marisha Nieuwoudt

Sheila-Madge Bakker

Pretoria based designer Sheila-Madge Bakker is inspired by nature, specifically the ocean, and incorporates many organic elements into her designs. Sheila creates wedding couture as well as luxury street wear and her latest collection, Black Lipsa collaboration with artist Andel Olivier, is something to be admired. The collection explores the flexibility of African art and the different ways other cultures borrow from the African identity.

Pieces from the Black Lips collection by Sheila Madge Bakker Designs | ©Charlotte Heyn

Pieces from the Black Lips collection by Sheila Madge Bakker Designs | © Charlotte Heyn