Fashionista is spoilt for choice

29 September 2011 - 02:15 By Milisuthando Bongela

For somebody who works in the fashion industry and deals with clothing, cameras and fashion folk all the time, you may think I live to shop.

But you are unlikely to find me trawling through clothes rails or lugging bags full of sale items.

I only enjoy the pleasures of conventional grocery and underwear shopping. For the rest, I acquire most of my pieces in unfair ways, according to my colleagues. I get lots of stuff at discount or for free.

My style is fluid and influenced by everything, from people to music to films, a shoot, a painting or how I feel that morning, so my shopping habits are also fluid. My wardrobe has 50% South African designer items, 40% vintage and 10% basics.

I get my local clothes from the designers I work with, either through my shop Mememe (I co-own Mememe Johannesburg with Doreen Southwood), on staff discount, or from the designers.

Sometimes a designer will say: "Hey Mili, thanks for this or that. Here's a dress for you.''

I buy most of my vintage stuff from market suppliers I've known for years.

They know my style and often call to say, "Hey Mili. I've got a jacket you will like,'' and chances are, when I am at their houses or the market trying the dress on, I will be enticed to buy something else.

I hardly ever plan to go shopping. And when I do, I usually go alone.

I'll only ever ask for my housemate's opinion once I've bought the item. I realise that may not be the best way to do things because I have piles of impulse buys that I don't wear.

Whenever my friend who lives in the UK visits South Africa, she showers me with perfume, clothes, shoes and even underwear because she knows what I like.

Another friend buys me beautiful vintage pieces. For a long time, I asked her where she got them but she would not tell me. But just before she emigrated, she took me to her secret spot and when I saw that it was in the chaos of the Noord Street taxi rank, I was a little apprehensive.

But we went in a group and were spoilt for choice when we discovered that there were massive bargain bins filled with vintage Calvin Klein, Benetton, Versace and even Burberry - in the middle of the street.

The day we went, I bought a beautiful coat and three jerseys for R120.

It was very unglamorous, but one of my most satisfying shopping experiences.

I've never been a fan of shopping at the big retailers.

But I'm working with Woolworths and I visit their stores often.

Every time I've left their stores, it has been with a surprise item that I found and bought.

Having a shop makes shopping easy.

Designers send us new stock every week and I'm fortunate to get first dibs on new pieces, and that is why I am such a lazy shopper.


My least favourite shopping experience

I like to stay away from malls . I can't stand the lighting and mass appeal .

Favourite shop

Mememe Cape Town (117 at corner of Church, Long streets 021-424-0001) .

Favourite vintage shop

It used to be Second Time Around (196 Long Street, 021-423-1674) when I lived in Cape Town. Now it's Deer Hunter, Market on Main (Arts on Main, Fox Street Johannesburg).

Favourite city to shop

New York. There are no limits.

Best coffee shop

Wolves in Johannesburg (4 Corlett Drive, Illovo, 011-447-2360) and Skinny Legs and All in Cape Town (70 Loop Street, 021-423-5403).

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