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Small town designer looming large in retail


From a young age, Lungile Dlamini was always fascinated by fashion design and spent much of her time designing and making clothes for her dolls.

The 25-year-old from Bulwer, a small town in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, is now living her dream as her winter range is being sold at Mr Price.

Her light-green wool jersey displayed at Mr Price stores, which made the rounds on social media, had people talking as they wanted to know more about the person behind it.

“I did not expect my range to be displayed this soon but I am excited for  the love I have been getting. Mr Price has always been collaborating with young designers. It was in 2018 or the beginning of 2019 when I saw clothes made by a local designer displayed at their stores. I immediately applied to be part of the collaboration but I did not get it,” Dlamini said.

Dlamini, who graduated in fashion design at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), said she was fortunate when she did an internship with Mr Price in June last year.

“It was only for a month but I can say it opened doors for me. I was in the department of designing clothes and after a month we had to do a presentation. I guess they liked my presentation because I received an email from them requesting me to collaborate with them with autumn and winter range. I gave them the concept which they approved together with my designs.”

She said due to the outbreak of Covid-19, she had to cancel her other clothes but Mr Price decided to showcase some of her winter range.

“I am now working on spring and summer range and the focus will be on handcraft material. I love exploring with handcraft and mixing wool and tulle cloth. There is always art in my clothes. I remember when I was in my teens, I tried to  design my own pants but they could not even go up my knees but I did not give up as that showed me there was a lot that I still needed to learn about the industry. My love for making clothes started while I was still young. I loved to make clothes for my dolls and I loved that.”

Dlamini, who sounded shy during the interview with Sowetan, is not new in the fashion industry as she was part of the SA Fashion Week in April last year.

“DUT always had a slot in the Fashion Week and I was lucky to be chosen to showcase my designs. That was such a blessing for me as it also proved to my parents that I did not make mistake by studying fashion design. They were skeptical at first when I told them that I wanted to pursue fashion design.”

Dlamini said she is now working on swimwear but people should watch the space as there is still more that will come from her side.

“I want to pursue more commercial garments as I want to have my own clothing business in the future. We are currently working on the idea with a friend who also studied fashion design.”

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