Designer Zwelihle Kabini follows mom's footsteps

Zwelihle Kabini of Daveyton has been making fancy masks during lockdown, which has slowed down his core business.
Zwelihle Kabini of Daveyton has been making fancy masks during lockdown, which has slowed down his core business.
Image: Supplied

Zwelihle Kabini has followed in his late mother's footsteps by taking over her sewing business.

The business venture is now enabling the 19-year-old from Daveyton, Ekurhuleni, to begin raising funds for his university studies.

Kabini could not study further after passing his matric a year ago due to financial constraints.

With plenty of free time on his hands and life's needs piling up, Kabini took out his late mother's sewing machine and started creating fashionable items, mostly streetwear and African designs for weddings. His mother died in 2015.

His dream is to study fashion design and be able to showcase his designs at the South African Fashion Week and abroad.

"She left me with my four siblings and we had to find ways to survive. Being the last born, I depended on my older brother and sister. But they too were young, and they had had their lives to build," he said.

During lockdown, Kabini adapted to sewing and selling masks.

The funky designer said he used to carefully observe his mother working on the sewing machines at home.

His funky street garb includes items made from reviving old clothes by adding different fabrics to them, anything from silk to denim.

"I love modifying vintage and modern wear.

"I modernise my designs by adding graffiti, painting and by adding any form of art detail that is inspired by my surroundings."

He also said he expressed his feelings through fashion because words were not enough at times.

"I don't have a specific design style I just find a cloth and let my imagination go wild. I noticed that I'm capable of expressing deep thoughts and that's the personification you get when you look at my work.

"I did not have someone close to talk to about challenges of growing up. So making clothes is my way of communicating my feelings, my thoughts."

Kabini markets and sells his clothes through social media. He said although growing up was hard without both parents, he focused on achievements and finishing school.

"I would love to be recognised for my work on successful campaigns. I would also love to be an impressive inspiration to other young designers."

Zwelihle Kabini
Zwelihle Kabini
Image: Supplied

Kabini said his customers have remained supportive and have kept him creative and enthusiastic.

"I make just about anything; my clients bring photos of what they want and I produce it. Some bring their own fabric and ask for my artistic creations and I deliver," said Kabini.

"I charge per item and if the fabric comes with a client I charge only for design."

His ready-to-wear pieces range from R250 to R1,500 depending on the cost of the fabric and the complexity of the design.

"Lockdown has slowed down my business but I remain optimistic. It has delayed my winter collection, but I have been making masks and my customers love them."

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