When she was sketching dresses as a little girl, she probably never dreamt that one day her designs would attract attention from all over the world.
Lesotho-born, South African designer Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana, 26, got international recognition when South African Elle Magazine Editor wore a black and white cape to the Louis Vuitton Fashion Show outside the Cour Carree du Louvre in Paris – a cape that Thabo had personally designed.
Her label’s signature items are unique, functional capes and jackets made from the Basotho blankets. These blankets are of great traditional and cultural significance. The King and Queen of Lesotho are regularly photographed in them.
Thabo graduated from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University with a Diploma in Fashion. Her final-year range was awarded the Most Creative Range Award. She founded her company in 2009 as a 21-year old graduate, “Like many young people, I struggled to find work in the wake of the global recession and I started working from home. My mom suggested that I formalize things and so I started my business. In the beginning it was tough because all the responsibility lay with me, but people believed in me and what I was trying to achieve, perhaps that in itself gave me more motivation” she says.
Today her label is getting interest from clients in the Netherlands, Paris and New York. Her future plans are to supply and be stocked internationally.
In 2013 she launched her Kobo Ea Bohali “Blankets of Prestige” range at the Design Indaba Expo in Cape Town as an Emerging Creative. This collection paired impeccable quality, European-cuts and trims with the beautiful blanket fabric with its exquisite detailed patterns. Her collection was met with critical acclaim and she was listed as one of the Top 10 Must See Designers.
The Thabo Makhetha ready-to-wear label consisting of ethnically inspired bridal wear, cocktail and evening dresses is sold in her boutique in Port Elizabeth and her signature blanket coats are available through boutiques in Cape Town, Johannesburg as well as an online shopping platform. The company has already begun with plans to roll out an online store targeting the international market.