Sindiso Khumalo: I’m a textile nerd

This South African-born fashion designer tells us how she draws on her Zulu and Ndebele heritage for her bespoke collections.
Posted 2 Dec 14 By Design Indaba Duration: 00:05:14 African DesignFashion & Jewellery Design Interviews / Video Interviews Comments

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Self-confessed "textile nerd", Sindiso Khumalo draws on her Zulu and Ndebele heritage to create fashion with a contemporary sensibility and graphic use of pattern.

“I use visual references from these cultures a lot in my work,” says the fashion designer, who creates her own textile prints.

Born in Durban, South Africa, she now lives and works in Hackney, London. Khumalo creates bold garments and accessories inspired by Zulu beadwork and Ndebele patterned-walls. Although still very much connected to her motherland, she believes the cultural diversity and cosmopolitanism of her new home is influential in her creative work too. 

“What drew me to fashion is my strong interest in creativity and the arts,” says Khumalo. 

Khumalo studied architecture at the University of Cape Town before moving to London to work in the office of renowned architect David Adjaye. She cites the Bauhaus Movement as a strong influence in her work – in particular, its use of colour and emphasis on line and pared-down forms. 

At Africa Utopia in London, Khumalo showcased two collections, Spring/Summer 2013 and Autumn/Winter 2014. Her Spring/Summer 2013 collection is influenced by the market place and taxi ranks in Durban: “All the chaos and collision of colour and craziness that exists there is interpreted in this collection,” she explains.

The Autumn/Winter 2014 collection reveals Khumalo’s interest in the rituals practised in African countries before missionaries arrived on the continent. She looked to Nigeria and West African culture in particular: “The collection is an interpretation of what people in these countries wore during religious practices,” she says.   

Khumalo believes that Africa is alive with newfound independence and freedom. “People want to hear the positive stories from Africa and I believe that is what is drawing people, not only to the African fashion story, but the African story as a whole."