Fashion

Written on the Body

Fashion designer Thembeka Yadah has appeared on CNN, showcased at both South African and London Fashion Week, and attends trade shows from Paris to Cape Town. She chatted to Life & Style about her company, Yadah Exclusive Designs.

She’s been a guest on CNN International’s African Voices, and a veteran of London’s African Fashion Week, all for good reason; Thembeka Yadah is making show-stopping garments with global appeal at her Durban studio.

The first thing one notices about her designs is her choice of fabric; with carefully considered, symbolic placements on the body, reflecting both urban and rural moments of everyday life in South Africa.

“I’ve been inspired by many things, from our democracy, to the act of going to rivers and collecting water,” she explains, referencing a particular fabric displaying taps as a motif. Not only are the fabrics deeply significant, the way she drapes fabric across the body is equally as considered.

Originally from Estcourt, Thembeka first studied jewellery design at technical college, but after her mother saw a dress she had made, she suggested a shift in career choice to fashion design, and Thembeka listened.

She creates clothes that are “both timeless and Afro-centric,” she explains.

“I still wear garments I designed and made 10 years ago. I don’t follow trends,” she adds. And her unique designs are a testament to her dedication to originality.

Originally from Estcourt, Thembeka first studied jewellery design at technical college, but after her mother saw a dress she had made, she suggested a shift in career choice to fashion design, and Thembeka listened.

With the support of the KZN Fashion Council (sparked by eThekwini Municipality’s Economic Development Unit and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism), she and many other designers are finding an international platform for their work.

Globally, conventional retail is taking a back seat as a result of high rentals, long-term leases, and the increased use of online shopping facilities, and Thembeka and many of her peers are hence shifting towards shared studio spaces to showcase their garments, as well as regular pop-up events in and around Durban. She doesn’t want to lose the tailor-made service she offers to her local and international private clients.

Her mantra is ‘quality, quality, quality.” It’s as simple as that!

Follow Thembeka on Instagram and Facebook @thembekayadah or visit thembekayadah.co.za