The Space to market winning designs

Busisiwe Sobopha’s Mechero range from NMBFW

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New Port Elizabeth talents Busisiwe Sobopha and Nozuko Ngcizela will see their designs in a national fashion retail store soon after winning the judges’ vote at Nelson Mandela Bay Fashion Week at the weekend.

A panel of four fashion experts chose Sobopha’s Mechero and Ngcizela’s Ergo Zen collections over a dozen others at the first NMBFW, held at the Tramways Building in the Baakens Valley from October 6 to 8.

The designs will go on sale at The Space at Baywest Mall.

Ngcizela, 33, said she set up her label Ergo Zen in Baakens Street last year to produce fashion that works using soft blended T-shirt fabrics.

“Ergo means therefore, so the name means ‘therefore Zen’, with Zen a meditative state, so it’s a never-ending story,” Ngcizela said yesterday.

“Ergo Zen clothing is clothing that works for the individual wearing it and not for the crowd.”

It is clothing with a subtle message: “In paying homage to our African culture we’ve incorporated a combination of African symbols in our printed T-shirts in order to conscientise ourselves and our buyers.”

Mechero was a Spanish word for “oil lamp”, and a symbol for readiness, NMMU fashion design graduate Sobopha, 25, said.

“Mechero is a ladies-wear brand catering for young women, 20s to 30s, who are ready for the next phases in life, such as being career women, marriage, motherhood, and so forth.

“Our distinctive look is mainly our pastel colour palette, with flowy silhouettes and soft fabrics,” Sobopha said.

“I worked for an international retail company in Cape Town for 10 months and resigned three months ago because my skill was not being put to use at all.

“I had all these exciting ideas building up, and just wanted to see them come to life, so Mechero was basically established within just the past three months.

“I was amazed and excited to have won best range at Mandela Bay Fashion Week, as I never imagined everything happening so fast!”

Both Ngcizela and Sobopha see themselves as artists more than designers.

Queenstown born and bred Sobopha said her two older brothers had inspired her to build a career in the arts as one was an animator and the other a sound engineer.

“I saw the natural passion they had in their work, doing what they love, so art is all I know,” she said.

Ngcizela said she not only designed clothes but also produced other artwork for a living.

The Space has given both designers a contract with rail space for the Baywest store, which they hope to fill with their garments towards the end of this year.

One of the judges, fashion consultant Kyle Boshoff, said: “The winning designers showcased collections that were cohesive, displayed a commercial sensibility and an understanding of what women want to wear.

“That is what set them apart and they were the clear front runners.

“I look forward to following their careers going forward.”

Nokuzola Ngcizela’s Ergo Zen range from NMBFW

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