Theme: Sustainable Design

Twyg, South Africa’s platform promoting sustainable living, last year launched the Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards, celebrating local fashion designers committed to sustainable production and ethical practices. “Fashion illustrates and captures sustainability issues really well,” says Twyg Founder Jackie May. “Waste, fair trade, pollution… It’s also very tangible and personal because we all wear clothes.” The awards use fashion as a vehicle to share the entrepreneurial stories of people working in this space. “It promotes them to consumers, and inspires other designers, which motivates them to work more sustainably too,” says May. Although the Twyg website has been running for two years, during which time May and her content creators have uncovered and featured a plethora of South African do-gooders, the awards – which were open for public and self-nomination – opened up a whole new world to explore, including names May had never heard of before. She was equally excited about discovering how industry stalwarts such as Clive Rundle and Amanda Laird Cherry have been working sustainably for most of their careers. “It was incredible to do a deeper dive into their life’s work to discover how they work with artisans, use local fabric when they can and apply low-waste design methods. It was amazing to hear how sustainable these designers have been… for much longer than the word sustainability has been fashionable.” Clive Rundle won the Nicholas Coutts Award, which recognises a designer who uses artisanal craft techniques such as weaving, embroidery or botanical dyeing to make fashion that values such skills. Amanda Laird Cherry scooped the Changemaker Award, honouring a career that has embraced sustainable and circular design practices through fabric choices, ethical labour practices and the promotion of slow consumer fashion habits, among other criteria. Five more categories were awarded, including the Student Award (won by 100 Beautiful Things number 18 Katekani Moreku), the Sustainable Accessory Award (won by 100 Beautiful Things number 8 Sealand Gear) and the Trans-seasonal Award (won by 100 Beautiful Things number 28 Sindiso Khumalo), Additional recognition went to designers working with innovative, waste-reducing patterns and sustainable fabrics, as well as retailers, pop-up spaces or events focused on slow fashion or supporting local producers. With sponsorship from PETCO and support from SACTWU (Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union), the awards held gravitas and demonstrated transparency and authenticity, inspiring hope for the progression of SA fashion. “It’s really exciting,” says May, citing a government masterplan to grow the local industry. “By 2030, 65% of product sold by local retailer signatories must be locally manufactured. And SACTWU is committed to a green economy – not only making textile mills come back to life, but making sure they’re doing it in a green way. “I feel very, very positive. It’s nice to see there’s a future in fashion, and in the clothing and textile industries in this country.”

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.