Craig Jacobs impresses with environmentally conscious designs

Recycled fabric all the rage for new Funduzi range

Miss SA 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida models Craig Jacobs for S1981.
Miss SA 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida models Craig Jacobs for S1981.
Image: Steve Tanchel.

Craig Jacobs, through his label Fundudzi (inspired by Lake Fundudzi in Venda), championed and fostered change on the continent way before it was cool for fashion and climate change to collide.

His S1981 designs were, unsurprisingly, environmentally conscious. The Amandla T-shirt he created is made from locally produced, 100% combed cotton and features stripes created from fabric-cutting waste.

In addition, the chain-mail detail on the cocktail dress was laser-cut from offcuts of ABS plastic.

“Africa has always been organic. When you think of sustainability it’s not a Western construct, but a way of life in Africa,” says Jacobs.

“What frustrates me is that people are green-washing when it comes to sustainability. I question whether, when people are being sustainable now, they are being true to themselves or just following a trend.

“Department stores [are] the biggest cause of environmental harm and yet they are championing T-shirts made of recycled fabric.”

Jacobs admits that having been given a historic front page featuring a rousing image of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela with a raised fist came with a lot of pressure.

“Sowetan has been there in so many important parts of our history and has captured that. To be given an opportunity to take something from an archive and interpret it in a way that is three-dimensional is exciting,” Jacobs says.

“I was, however, a little daunted because this is probably the most iconic woman in Africa. She stood for so much and went through so much. I had to take a step back, breathe, calm down, and think of a way to capture the essence of who she was.”

So, after overcoming his initial anxiety, how did Jacobs deconstruct the image?

Designer Craig Jacobs finds Mam'Winnie's Amandla as inspiration for his sketches.
Designer Craig Jacobs finds Mam'Winnie's Amandla as inspiration for his sketches.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

“We have seen so many images of her doing that iconic amandla pose. It was interesting that in this image, she is almost looking away… I started unpacking that, thinking about the tension and anger.

“The starting point was the cape, which is fluid… I thought that, at the time the image was taken, this was a woman who was restricted in terms of her movement. The freedom that she was fighting for, I wanted to convey that.”

Collaboration played a huge part in his fashion-making process. Visual artist Greatjoy Ndlovu sketched the raised fist and turned it into a pattern on the trousers of the commercial look. Jacobs’s long-time collaborator Anna-Mari Claasen, of the label Kottin & Twille, was also instrumental.

• S1981 is a capsule fashion collection that Sowetan has created in honour of the paper's 40th anniversary.

Get the full story behind the making of the S1981 collection with other fashion designers David Tlale, Ole Ledimo, Chloe Andrea Welgemoed and Lekau Sehoana in the December issue of S Mag out tomorrow. 

Local designers have created a capsule collection in honour of Sowetan’s 40th anniversary. The affordable luxe collection will be called S1981, derived from the first letter of the Sowetan and the year it was first established (1981).

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