Two new young designers on the local fashion scene have a few things in common: they are inspired by gender-neutrality and collaboration.
ARTCLUB AND FRIENDS
After spending some time thinking about how she could combine her love of fashion, art and music, and her desire to work with creatives, young local designer Robyn Keyser launched her label Artclub and Friends at the end of last year.
At the core of the label is the desire to ensure that everything is locally made and that the clothing reflects youth culture and the kinds of conversations that young people are having at the moment.
Her first collection combines traditionally masculine cuts with colours that are usually interpreted as feminine.
The combining of the two in one outfit references debates attempting to challenge the assumption that there are only two genders and that each is associated with a particular style.
The impulse to make gender-neutral clothing also comes from a personal space for the designer. Growing up she considered herself a tomboy and refused to wear pink because of what it represented.
''As someone who has worn men's clothing for the majority of my life, I understand a small part of how having to wear a specific kind of clothing can suppress and contain you," she says.
But she's begun to really enjoy playing around with preconceived ideas about colour as she's got older. One T-shirt from her collection has "pink is not a gendered colour" printed on it.
Keyser wants to make clothing that people wear because they want to, not because the styles and colours have been dictated to them because of their gender.
Artclub and Friends refers to her desire to collaborate with other creatives and is a tribute to her creative childhood friends who did what they loved, avoided trends and always had paint in their hair.
Keyser's label's tagline - ''wear me and make art" - refers to her desire to collaborate with artists, performers and musicians to create clothing that speaks to a variety of like-minded people, challenging them to join her on her creatative journey.
Her first collaborative project was a T-shirt she designed with South African experimental artist and musician Thor Rixon at the launch of his third album, Songs from the Bath .
Keyser also plans to invite other artists to collaborate with her in their chosen mediums in an exhibition for charity.
• View the first collection of Artclub and Friends on their Instagram page and on their website and see what else Keyser has planned for the year.
Fashion label Glitter Betty from up-and-coming designer Khensani Mohlatlole exemplifies all things young and fun.
Inspired by fashion lovers Thato Ramaisa (Fela Gucci) and Buyani Duma (Desire Marea) from local cultural movement FAKA, she conjures up whimsical, textured garments and accessories.
Glitter Betty began with Mohlatlole's high-school obsession with thrift shopping and upcycling and this became an extension of her blog, Glitter Daiquiri.
She is currently studying fashion and her label has been through a transition from upcycling to the genesis of her own designs.
Mohlatlole has always been drawn to glitter and anything that sparkles and is eccentric and fun. She describes her label as the meeting point between cute, sexy and quirky. "That's what I wanted the name to suggest ."
Her latest collection channels the spirits of Cher, Diana Ross and Grace Jones with silhouettes that subvert the assumed subtly and romance of sheer, velvet and satin.
It's more liberating to wear clothes that haven't been specifically designed for either men or women. You're not confined to a certain number of silhouettes or fabrics
Reflecting on how she interprets her audience, Mohlatlole says: ''My clientele are more interested in whether their clothes are ethically made, that they know who made them and that they are buying unique styles, not just trendy, fast fashion accessible to anyone."
Mohlatlole wants to reinvent fashion and strip it of being strictly women's wear or menswear and is planning to create gender-neutral collections this year.
"It's more liberating to wear clothes that haven't been specifically designed for either men or women," she says. "You're not confined to a certain number of silhouettes or fabrics. It's about what you feel looks and feels good on your body."
Mohlatlole has partnered with the Botswana brand Glotto by Mboko Basiami.
''We've both been on each other's radar, but she took the plunge and contacted me. We dress the same type of person but in different ways," the local designer says.
At the moment they share space on Glitter Betty's online store, but have plans to work on a collection together to be released later this year.
• This article was originally published in The Times.