Fashion designer Gert-Johan Coetzee has partnered with Barbie to create an international clothing collection which is inspired by the diversity of South Africa.
The Barbie and Coetzee collaboration includes 31 outfits which consist of both couture outfits and ready-to-wear items.
On 10 November, the fashion designer held a stunning launch party in Johannesburg to celebrate his collaboration, and the launch was attended by South Africa’s A-list celebrities such as Pearl Thusi, DJ Zinhle, and Thembi Seete.
Coetzee painted the town pink as the venue was draped in pink Barbie decor, pink finger foods and treats, and pink drinks.
Some time in the evening, attendees got the chance to get up close and personal with the clothing items from the collaborations as gorgeous models paraded the venue wearing some of the outfits, giving guests the chance to take in Coetzee’s wonderful creations and take pictures and videos.
The Citizen got the chance to talk to Coetzee about his exciting collaboration with Barbie. Here’s what he said:
Q. How did growing up in Koster shape you as a fashion designer?
Growing up in Koster was fundamental to my fashion design style and career. I think growing up on the farm, surrounded by so many cultures and diversifications, has really inspired me and until today a lot of my inspiration comes from the farm.
Q. How did your career as a fashion designer begin?
My career as a fashion designer started when I was younger than six years old. I had always wanted to be a fashion designer, it has been a life long dream and a passion and calling. It wasn’t a choice, it was literally a calling, something I had to do.
For me I really started blossoming in my fashion career after I studied in Klerksdorp. I became very lucky very soon, getting a job to design for in Strictly Come Dancing and then that snowballed into dressing a Kardashian and now having people like Oprah Winfrey and Cardi B as clients has really been a very phenomenal journey for me and I’m so grateful for it.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your collaboration with Barbie?
I have collaborated with Barbie to really showcase a beautiful African collection inspired by South Africa. I wanted to bring across all the different cultures and personalities that we have in South Africa. The whole collection is really about diversity.
I wanted to show how inclusive the Gert-Johan Coetzee brand is, as well as the Barbie brand, by showcasing garments that everybody can see themselves in. I really tried to represent everybody in terms of religions, cultures and ethnicities.
Q. Will there be clothing items for both men and women in the collaboration?
The clothing for the Barbie collection is gender inclusive, so it is literally tracksuits that can be worn by men and women or anybody for that matter that feels they identify with the clothing. I wanted the collection to really speak to the people of South Africa and the people of the world.
I think working with a massive fashion icon like Barbie has been a lifelong dream for me and to bring across a collection that will be on sale on shopgert.com is just a lifelong dream come true.
Q. Will this clothing line be available for purchase by anyone who is interested?
Yes, 100%. It is very exciting. The clothing will be available from 10 November on shopgert.com and I’ve done a very exciting shoe collection with Europa Art and that will be available from 1 December nationwide. That is also something I have always wanted to do, to create a shoe line and teaming up with a fashion icon like Barbie and Europa Art has brought that dream to fruition.
Q. Can you tell us about your experience, from a fashion designers perspective, about how the pandemic has effected the fashion industry or your career?
I think the whole fashion industry came to a whole shutdown just like many industries. It was a very scary time, but it was a time to really stand out and push forward and really think about other creative ways to really move on and grow the brand.
I think we have all learnt so much about ourselves and business within this Covid experience, but its really taught me to be more creative and to think of better solutions.
Q. I know you recently collaborated with Ricoffy. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I really love working with iconic brands. I think the pop iconography of something like that is so iconic and to be working with a South African icon like Ricoffy has been such fun experience.
We created this beautiful bucket hat that was just a cultural staple and I think is in every South Africans closet, so for me as a designer to just bring across and interpret that 50-year anniversary of Ricoffy and to work with that iconic brand was just also a lot of fun.
Q. Any advice or tips you may have for the younger men and women who would like to be a household brand like Gert-Johan Coetzee in the fashion industry?
I think what is important here is creativity, passion and drive. That’s just not in a creative fashion kind of career, its also in any type of dream job that you might have your dream set on. I think it’s just about waking up and doing it.
The right time to do something is right now, and you must always just push as hard as you can to improve yourself 1% everyday and I think with that attitude you will make a success out of any career which you find passionate.