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By Thami Kwazi

Lifestyle Print Editor

Flying the Flag: Six Mzansi designers who’ve achieved international success

From winning international awards to dressing Grammy-award-winning celebrities, lead Mzansi designers are making serious inroads on the global fashion scene.

Getting celebrities to wear unknown brands isn’t an easy task, but six of South Africa’s finest have managed to get it right.

Whether in Paris or New York, Top Designers are putting South African on the international map and featuring on runways and red carpets.


Recently NBA player Dwayne Wade posted a Maxhosa designer jersey online and tagged the store where he purchased it South African’s were in disbelief. True to Maxhosa’s brand, the design house has to ensure their clothes are still at a premium price. Maxhosa by Laduma is a designer brand that specialises in knitwear with patterns in bright colours. The brand has been around for 10 years and is known to be Xhosa-inspired but with a strong modern aesthetic. The range is sold online and has stores in Joburg and one planned in Cape Town.

Dwayne Wade

Thebe Magagu

Many spotted actress Issa Rae on TV show Insecure wearing Kimberly-born Thebe Magagu’s design. Magagu rose to international success when his range was featured at Paris Fashion week just before lockdown. A photo exhibition titled ‘Ipopeng Ext’ was named after the area where Northern Cape where the designer hails from. He won the 2019 International Fashion Showcase and was announced one of the eight finalists for this year’s LVMH Prize, which is designed to honour and support young upcoming fashion designers in the high fashion space. His capsule collection is available to buy on 24 Sèvres and LVMH’s online shopping platform. The win was highly celebrated as the first time it was awarded to a designer from Africa.

Issa Rae

David Tlale

David Tlale continues to fly the South African flag with runway shows in New York and supermodels showing off his clothing. His foray onto the international scene started with a 2012 New York Fashion Week show and continued annually. His 2015 New York show had supermodel Tyson Beckford leading. Tlale has previously dressed Tina Knowles for the Global Good Bet Awards 2015.

David Tlale

Enhle Mbali

When she isn’t on our screens acting on Netflix spy series Queen Sono, Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa is designing for the likes of singer Beyonce Knowles. Enhle collaborated with former fashion design duo Quiteria & George to create an ivy-shaded gown for Beyonce when she performed on South African shores at the Global One concert in December 2019. Enhle recently nabbed the Best Designer Collection nod for her line Essie Apparel at the Fashion Community Week in San Francisco. She previously had her fashion line feature in the January edition of Vogue Italia magazine.


Quiteria Lebogang Kekana, a native of Limpopo and founder of Quiteria Atelier, has found a way to observe the life of a modern woman by and transform the liveliness into alluring designs for the human form.  His solo show in Paris on Saturday, 29 February 2020 was presented on the runway at the prestigious Ritz Paris, Place Vendôme during Paris Fashion Week and saw actress Nandi Mbatha and South African Ring of Lies actress  Tessa Twala close the show for him.

Quiteria presented a collection that left the audience feeling both moved and revitalised. The expertise of the designer and his team consists of Sir Ernest, his junior designer for the brand, and many others.

Explaining his collections, he expressed his interpretation of the world resided deeply in the art that his clothing line produced and that intoxicating energy of vogue modernism was ever-present. Quiteria grew up captivated by the sartorial world when he recognised the liberation that styling fabric offered an individual who was a visual creative. This discovery invoked the confidence he had to offer.

When he showed his range from Paris, an emotional and humbled Quiteria Kekana sent his gratitude to everyone back home for the love and support.

Quiteria is known for dressing Beyonce for her Global Festival performance in South Africa and has made headlines for transforming many South African celebrities fashion on the red carpet such as Dineo Moeketsi/Langa, Nomuzi Mabena, Bonang Matheba, and Lerato Kganyago as well as dressing the likes of Nigerian leading personality Toke Mankiwa, Swaziland’s Queen Lafogiyane and recently Nandi Mbatha at Sun Met in Cape Town, Western Cape.

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