Creations out of Africa
It all started in 2003 with a few teardrops and some persuasive words.
That was the year fashion designer Thando Zamxaka enrolled at Buffalo City College in East London for a fashion design course.
This was a far cry from the accounting course he had initially wanted to pursue but had to abandon because there was no room for him.
With the fashion design section still admitting students, a new career beckoned.
"The head of the fashion design department discouraged me from doing the course because guys often dropped out," Zamxaka says.
"I cried like a baby when I heard this. I could not imagine myself sitting at home the whole year while my friends were studying.
"So the department head felt sorry for me and took me in."
At first it was rather difficult to get his family to be enthusiastic about his choice but they warmed up to it when they realised how committed he was.
Though he was excited, the thought of making clothes himself bothered him.
"I took the course to keep me going for that year," he says. "Little did I know that I was not only going to fall in love with it but excel at it."
Today, the 30-year-old fashion design graduate is arguably the best Eastern Cape fashion designer with his label Tido. Most influential people in the province wear the label with pride.
Tido dominates the local fashion scene and sets high standards for budding designers.
To keep up the tempo, the designer, who hails from a village called Centane near Butterworth, draws inspiration from his desire to inject energy, style and comfort. He finds his muse in everyday life.
"Tido is for the responsible dresser who wants to outshine others with style," he says. "This person is unique, he or she has presence and his or her clothes are timeless."
Zamxaka's work has been showcased at prestigious events such as the Sanlam Fashion Week and other influential fashion showcases.
His designs are invariably biker chic, pleats, layers and dramatic collars in ethnic fabrics. He strives to translate his artistic vision and talent into clothes his clients cannot only wear but live in.
It was only four years ago that Zamxaka blasted on to the scene with Shwe Shwe designs. He remains one of the truly distinctive trendsetters of local haute couture.
"Tido is an expression of Africanism by an African," he explains. "It is a celebration of African culture and people. Every thread and cloth commemorates the African dream."
Zamxaka is to open a boutique that will create employment for other up-and-coming designers.
His journey revolves around redefining the essence of ethnic fashion by infusing colour, fabric and silhouettes to create designs that sublimely please the soul.