Doctor turned designer Kgahlego Kewana talks us through her unlikely path

The Emerging Creative exhibited her work at the Design Indaba Festival 2019 among 49 up-and-coming South African talents.

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Kgahlego Kewana decided to leave behind her career as a doctor at 28-years-old. She'd had a love for fashion but pursued what she considered a practical career instead. Now, at the age of 31, she's launched DOCTORED, a homage to her previous career. The tailored garments are a combination of exaggerated shapes yet have subtle clean finishes. 

We spoke to Kewana ahead of her involvement in the Design Indaba Festival, which will take place on 27, 28 February through to 1 March in Cape Town this year. 

“As the name suggests, at DOCTORED we “doctor up” things, playing with pattern making, fabric, shapes & silhouettes to make clothes that are interesting yet still wearable,” she explains.

Kewana’s designs also embrace both masculine and feminine looks. One of her previous collections of work is called Dr Jekyll & Ms Bloom. In it, she combines two seemingly unlikely personalities into one. 

Key to the storytelling aspect of her creations, Kewana says that she only uses materials that mirror strength & fragility. “I love creating shapes, I veer more towards heavier weight fabrics that are able to hold shape,” she explains.

She recalls that the movie Titantic, a story set in 1912, made her fall inlove with fashion and the roll that costume played in movie's success. 

“I was completely in awe of the costumes and dresses - the intricate details and the embellishments! I wanted to make things that were beautiful, so I started designing soon after that,” she says.

In 2017, at LISOF in Johannesburg, Kewana was awarded the highly anticipated Best Commercial Range - one of the many first inklings that she'd made the right career move.

“Having come into fashion much older I spent most of my time being unsure of myself, but winning that award really just set it in my heart that this is where I am meant to be,” she admits.

Kewana says that she applied for the Emerging Creatives programme to gain more insight into the creative world.

“There is such a big gap between Fashion School & the real world. Designers often leave school with absolutely no idea what the next step is, and I was no different,” she says.

“I think that the Emerging Creatives programme helps to bridge this gap, not only through the workshops & exhibition but also through the networking & mentoring which can open many doors for creatives trying to enter their industry.”

The programme was created by Design Indaba in association with the Department of Arts and Culture to give a voice to up and coming industry innovators.

Read more on Emerging Creatives 2019: 

Emerging Creative Chad Hanning on the importance of street art

8 emerging fashion designers on their interpretation of South African fashion

4 graphic designers exhibiting at Design Indaba 2019