When Bulelani Nkunzi was growing up, the only “fashion” his family received was at Christmas time.
And then it was a new school uniform.
At school civvies day, he was never able to dress up but saw his friends’ trend up in labels he could only dream of.
Fast-forward a decade or so and Cape Town-based Bulelani Nkunzi has his own label, Mos, a new outlet at Rosebank’s bespoke Soko market and a thriving side hustle that’s growing in popularity. By day he is an IT administrator.
“When I was at school all I wanted was an All Five jersey, cargo pants and some Timberland boots, but obviously I couldn’t afford that and my mother couldn’t afford them,” says Bulelane.
“So, I started trading video games with my friends until I eventually bought myself a pair of all of the Timberlands and cargo pants.”
This was his fascination and the genesis of Bulelani’s love affair with fashion.
Mos fashion has its roots in WhatsApp and Facebook. This is where Bulelani started plying his trade in 2012. He had no website, no significant capital investment and relied on word of mouth, the trust of a somewhat untrusted sales channel and people falling in love with his product.
“I made sure that every order was delivered on time, was well made and ensured that after-sales service and follow-ups developed a relationship between my customers and I,” says Bulelani.
It’s no wonder that majority of Bulelani’s market comprises repeat clients. He tirelessly works on the quality of his garb and the Mos reputation.
It’s his past and his creative impetus that join up in his design work, which ranges from athleisure to sexy urban street wear and formal suits for men and women.
“I find real expression in creating clothes,” says Bulelani. “It’s a reflection of my mood, my emotions and aspects of my character.”
The way he waxes lyrical about his ‘design and desire’ process paints the picture of an artist, a sculptor with commercial savvy.
“I want people to want my label, to walk down the street or scroll on Instagram and say, ‘Wow, where did he or she get that?’
With spring a month away and summer a stone’s throw, Bulelani says he has been experimenting with all things loud.
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“The season for me is all about being bold. It’s about showing as much skin as possible while being somewhat conservative at the same time.”
He adds that lockdown in winter has seen everyone so cooped up that showing off and shedding inhibitions and revealing and highlighting curves and shapes with bareness is summer’s hottest ticket.
“And butt fashion is back,” he says.
“Everyone is drawing attention to their derrieres, and expect to see a lot of it.”
Bulelani also hasn’t gone the tye-dye route like others, but has rather been experimenting with spray-paint, adding a graffiti-esque touch to sexy cuts and cheeky lines for women.
“I am also adding a range of suits to my men’s collection for summer. Even a grey, three-piece does not have to be boring,” he says.
He is obsessed with quality and every item is designed and the fabric cut to size by Bulelani himself. Seamstresses stitch it all together.
“Fit is so important,” he says, “and South African bodies are different to the clobber sometimes imported in large quantities that has to be adjusted to our physiques when it arrives, or it simply doesn’t fit.”
Therefore, Bulelani does not source anything from overseas.
“I believe in South African for South Africans.”
The Mos brand today makes frequent appearances in music videos and fashion shows and is donned by presenters and emcees across the Western Cape. The Rosebank store is his first toe-wetting in Gauteng.