African fashion has been unwavering in making its imprint on the fashion industry’s global landscape through culturally-infused designs. This phenomenon has been propelled by the plethora of futuristic fashion designers and stylists who create diverse modes for various fashion houses on the continent. One such dynamo is fashion entrepreneur Mpumelelo Dhlamini, the founder of contemporary African luxury clothing brand, Ezokhetho. After graduating with a BA degree in Fashion from Villioti Fashion Institute, he sought to create a clothing brand that would be a form of storytelling. Established in 2017, Ezokhetho, which is isiZulu for “carefully chosen as being the best or most suitable”, was created to reflect the African person and celebrate the lineage behind the now.
With authenticity as one of its core values, the luxury brand aims to tell African stories using fabric. Ezokhetho continues to take on a DNA of its own each season. The brand aspires to find new ways of giving modern African women clothing that makes a statement without compromising on comfort or quality. Ezokhetho’s voguish pieces aim to cater to and enhance the everyday wardrobe of African women.
Moziak spoke with Mpumelelo to discuss all things Ezokhetho and its trailblazing collections that comprise timeless fashion pieces.
Ezokhetho is a contemporary luxury fashion brand. What inspires the brand and its lux appeal?
The people do. One of our aspirations as a brand is to create clothes that have a feeling of home, home in the context of comfort and a safe haven. Pieces that you look at and understand that a certain thought process went into creating them.
Your latest collection is titled “Khumbulekhaya”. Tell us more about the vintage-esque collection and its inspiration.
The inspiration for this collection came from a post-pandemic mindset, having gone through what we went through and being reminded how quickly life can change. The collection is about the journey of individuals on a quest to heal and reunite with their families.
“Khumbulekhaya” comprises timeless pieces with a modern twist. What was your creative process for the collection?
The creative approach for the collection was to touch on elements that remind us of home, especially in the South African context. From childhood to adulthood, your Sunday Best-inspired items, stand-out fashionable pieces, etc.
You collaborated with legendary actress Mam’ Connie Chiume on your Basotho-inspired kimono titled “Batho Pele”. How was that experience?
It was such a beautiful surprise for us to have a legend such as Mam’ Connie in one of our pieces, especially for such an iconic portrait. The portrait was shot during a promotional shoot for a Netflix special. It was one of those moments when things coincidentally aligned beautifully.
Ezokhetho’s “Izimbokodo” collection is an ode to femininity and the multi-faceted nature of South African women. What do you think we can learn from the women of 1956?
What we can learn from the women of 1956 is that being resilient in standing for what’s right does eventually bring about the change we desire. Especially in this day and age, we cannot afford to be comfortable in the state of barely getting by.
What is your advice for aspiring fashion entrepreneurs with hopes of making a name for themselves in the industry?
Don’t be afraid to be a beginner. Absorb and learn as much as you can. Part of what worked for me was that I never stopped learning, even after obtaining my qualification. Always remember that you have something different to offer; work on perfecting that because that is what will make a place for you in the industry.
What else can we expect from Ezokhetho in 2022?
We’re currently in Italy to see and experience the fashion scene from a global perspective; we hope to expand and garner more opportunities for the brand beyond the borders. We are also releasing – for the first time – a scarf collection called “Umkhathizwe – the Horizon”.