Royal thumbs up for Tshepo jeans

Tshepo Mohlala hands over a pair of dungarees to the Duchess of Sussex. /INSTAGRAM
Tshepo Mohlala hands over a pair of dungarees to the Duchess of Sussex. /INSTAGRAM

Local fashion designer Tshepo "The Jean Maker" Mohlala, known for his eponymous tailored denim label, thought he was being pranked when an order came in from the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

The British embassy had contacted the 28-year-old Tsakane-born designer just four weeks ahead of Markle's SA tour to order a pair of his signature jeans for her.

"Well, the heavy British accent took a bit of time understanding at first. Four minutes later, I hung up and asked Tumi [his assistant], 'Who is Meghan Markle?' and she was like, 'Dude that's the Duchess of Sussex'," he recalled.

"While driving home it sunk in. A day later, I thought I was getting pranked until her people called me again. As a businessman you have to keep calm. It was one of those moments that only the team knew about this."

On Monday afternoon, the Duchess of Sussex paid a secret visit to his atelier in the Victoria Yards market, Lorentzville, to collect the pair of jeans and meet the brainchild behind the brand.

Rocking a royal blue Wilfred dress, she also checked out the studio of contemporary painter and printmaker James Delaney.

"It felt amazing to be visited by royalty, it felt great having a conversation with her and she knew who I am and what I am about. I didn't have to sell myself," Mohlala said.

"We spoke about her dress. touched a little on my journey, my studio and what we [are] up to.

"I showed her new fabrics we have and introduced her to my team and the ladies we are currently training to become JeanMakers. We had a nice conversation about jeans and she was like, 'dude I'm from California, I love jeans'."

The pair Mohlala created for Markle is a one-of-a-kind special design and it's not available for purchase. He also surprised her with a pair of custom dungarees made for her son Prince Archie.

A pair of jeans currently ranges between R1,650 and R7,000. He said he hasn't had much time to think about increasing the price after the royal visit.

Yesterday, Meghan continued the tour in Johannesburg and stopped at the University of Johannesburg for a table discussion on access to higher education for women.

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