Old school fashion for the new school

Making crochet fashion items in the streets of Soweto.

Two young, Soweto-based designers Sifiso Jiyane and Sifiso Nxumalo created the Original Zookeeper fashion and lifestyle brand to show that old school methods can still inspire a unique look. Through their brand, they create new school fashion items and remove the stigma that crocheting is old women’s retirement activity.

Original Zookeeper was found three years ago when Jiyane and Nxumalo quit their jobs in pursuit of something 100 per cent owned and controlled by them. After seeing crocheting on television, the entrepreneurs decided to learn the trade and incorporate it into their brand.

It started with locally bought wool. At their base in Johannesburg, the two create handmade hats, backpacks, t-shirts, belts, jackets and caps. “Convincing people we do the actual craft is one of our challenges,” said Jiyane.

Original Zookeeper is sold in three concept shops in Johannesburg. The creatives aim to teach people about their craft, open their own store and also reach different corners of the world.

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