Tlale's protégé lauches range that accentuates a woman's 'power & vulnerability'
Aya Velase's latest range keeps to his design aesthetic, writes Sandiso Ngubane
Designer Aya Velase's eponymous fashion label is known for its creative manipulation of volume. He makes fashion that he describes as balancing a play between a woman's "power and vulnerability".
His latest range, for which the designer recently published a lookbook, takes this forward while emphasising utilitarianism as opposed to the more conceptual collections we've seen in the past.
"We've tried to achieve this without compromising the Aya Velase aesthetic," the designer says. "I'm offering the Aya Velase customer ready-to-wear pieces that still carry a great deal of design value and integrity."
The colour palette spans shades of rusty reds, white and muted hues, a lot like what we've seen in past collections, with voluminous silhouettes. The lookbook for this spring-summer offering was created in collaboration with emerging fashion photographer Simphiwe Mkhwanazi and make-up artist Nikkita Naidoo.
Model Jessica Mahlekisi sports an afro, light make-up and adorns Aya Velase's garments against the backdrop of a corn field, with the blue sky peeking in the background, perfectly complementing the colour palette.
Many will remember Aya Velase as an intern of David Tlale's a few years ago, following a showcase under the auspices of the revered local designer. Since then, Velase has moved from his native Durban to Johannesburg, a move the designer describes as strategic for the growth of his young business.
As much as the fashion industry is over-saturated in Johannesburg, I still thought it was the best place to position my business on the marketAya Velase
"As much as the fashion industry is over-saturated in Johannesburg, I still thought it was the best place to position my business on the market," he explains.
"It's more fast-paced this side, and it motivates you to work harder. Durban is beautiful, but I learnt early on that there isn't much of a market for the kind of work I do there. Even when I was still in Durban, I had more traction in Johannesburg than I ever did there."
Over the next couple of months, the focus for Velase is on further expanding the brand's retail footprint, and he has already set out to establish an online retail presence through a store launching next month. Currently, his designs are available for purchase at flaircollections.com.
Velase says the biggest challenge while trying to establish his company has been the lack of capital and other resources.
"It's something that derails many emerging fashion brands like mine. The lack of ongoing business mentorship has been another big challenge, but I've learnt the importance of staying on course. This is not a race. Every day is an opportunity for me to acquire new knowledge in order to propel my business forward. I always look for ways to forge through the challenges and I'm proud of the progress I've made so far."