A Sustainable Future for Fashion

by Dilon Bhana

23 November 2021

On the 20th of November, Rewoven in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden to South Africa hosted their annual event, the Future of Fashion Indaba, highlighting the importance of sustainability in fashion and the future of fashion. The event was set-up at the Black Brick Club in Sandton and was also streamed live on the Rewoven Africa YouTube channel.

The event brought about some thought-provoking conversation, including the sustainability in the African fashion industry in comparison to that of the rest of the world, mostly Europe, with the help of their erudite guest speakers. This event was perfect for anyone who has a passion for fashion and sustainability and a deep interest in seeing the part that Africa has to play in it all.

Esethu Cengu (pictured right), co-founder of Rewoven, posed an interesting question asking whether the topic of sustainability in fashion in coherence with climate change was an indulgent one in contrast with the other problems that we face in the country.  Tshepo Bhengu (pictured left), the Chief Operations Officer from Rewoven, thanked the various parties involved in the event.

Later in the day Tshepo also co-hosted the first masterclass of the day with Jonas Larsson from the Swedish School of Textiles. During this masterclass, the topic of ‘The Role of Technology in a Sustainable Ecosystem’ was discussed. The second of the two masterclasses was hosted by designer Annegret Affolderbach and discussed ‘How to be a Conscious Consumer’.




Photo (l-r) Khensani Mohlatlole, Tinuke Eboka, Xavier Zulu, Lukhanyo Mdingi and Molife Kumona

Event hosts, fashion writer Khensani Mohlatlole and stylist, writer and creative consultant Tinuke Eboka held a panel discussion with three big names in the South African fashion industry; creative consultant, Xavier Zulu, Designer, Lukhanyo Mdingi and the editor and chief of GQ South Africa, Molife Kumona, to discuss the topic of fashion and fashion sustainability in South Africa.

Among the questions that were posed and the topics that were discussed was the role of the fashion magazine and the idea that print was dead. Lukhanyo Mdingi posited that print is not dead, but has just become niche and that media is now 360. It is not solely reliant on print but is widely distributed digitally. An interesting topic of textiling among the youth was brought up and the importance of the involvement of the youth in textiling and being able to learn these important skills from the older generation. In terms of sustainability, textiles play a key role. Listening to the panel there was an image of inclusivity within the topic, where one was able to picture an entire world of fashion sustainability. The question of inclusion in sustainability was also brought up, and the importance of creating a wide and diverse awareness around it.

At the indaba attendees were invited to view the designer showcase which included a number of sustainable designers as well as a fashion film that was put together by around nine African, sustainable fashion designers. Among the showcased designers were Lukhanyo Mdingi, I am Isigo - a fibre artist, Wandida Boutique, Rethread - a sustainable clothing brand, Tshepsio Jewellery, St Reign - a minimalist leather accessories brand, The Amazing work of AN’SO - an accessories brand, KikoRomeo - a heritage brand and Lara Klawikowski - a South African fashion designer.

During the event there was also a marketplace set up where several sustainable businesses, including Rewoven, Thrift Culture, Three Thrifty Five, The Sneaker Shack, Nthatuoa and Crybaby Thrift, were set up.

The discussion around the future of fashion may seem like an elite one. Sustainability in a world made of plastic, however, should not be seen as something that is difficult to achieve because a completely sustainable world has already existed. The discussion of the Future of Fashion Indaba on the 20th of November centred a lot around Africa and the commendable moves that Africa is making within the world of fashion sustainability, which is ahead of the rest of the world. A question that can be asked with regards to this is whether these achievements have been due to Africa’s ‘stunted’ development in line with the western world. Along with Africa’s achievement a question from the audience brought decolonisation into the discussion. I then ask; when does the process of decolonisation end so that we can start the journey of Africanisation?