Cape duo's Ivy League-inspired fashion will put a prep in your step

21 September 2017 - 12:34 By Sibusiso Mkize
Jota-Kena aims to produce clothing that is both sustainable and chic.
Jota-Kena aims to produce clothing that is both sustainable and chic.
Image: Supplied

The phrase "sisters are doing it for themselves" doesn't really apply to the Swinford sisters, Tanith and Keziah, the force behind the chic and sustainable fashion brand Jota-Kena.

Growing up the dynamic pair always knew they wanted to work together and create something that would benefit others.

''We're a close-knit family and our dad, John, a respected businessman, entrepreneur and family man, wanted to do something creative with his daughters. We love fashion, so we began discussing developing a clothing label," say the sisters.

The result is a tailored, preppy, Ivy League-inspired collection of jackets and beautifully cut jerseys.

"Our design process starts with an idea, a concept, or from some source of inspiration.

"From there we brainstorm our ideas and create mood boards to establish a general look and feel for the range.

"This helps us to envision how to bring our ideas to life in the form of a cohesive collection. The cut, quality and fit are important to us and always influence our designs, along with the fabrics. We only use natural, sustainable and ethically produced material," they say. 

JK Jumpers, R2,300 each, from Jota-Kena.
JK Jumpers, R2,300 each, from Jota-Kena.
Image: Supplied

The sisters' symbiosis is evident in the way the two describe their working process.

"It's a privilege to work every day with the people we love most. Our dad, the co-founder of Jota-Kena, is our hero.

"He's a good leader and doesn't back down from a challenge. He lives by the motto: hard on standards, but soft on people.

"In an industry that can be quite intimidating, we are each other's biggest cheerleaders. We keep each other grounded and remind one another why we do what we do."

They are also determined that their clothing brand should be environmentally friendly and sustainable.

"In our opinion, ecofriendliness and giving back aren't mutually exclusive pillars. It doesn't make sense to be empowering people at the cost of our environment. Our aim is to be kind to both humans and our environment - increasingly so, as technology and our capacity to produce our collections improves," say the sisters.

And what are their future plans? They're excited to be launching Jota-Kena Bespoke, a customised denim jacket range that will be ready in the next two months.

"With this range we want to offer something truly individual," they say.

This article was originally published in The Times.