Wannabe filmmaker to Jean Maker: how Tshepo Mohlala found his fit

'I feel like denim is the only fabric in the world with purpose,' says this Joburg designer, who has a grand 60-day plan to take his jeans brand to the next level

08 July 2018 - 00:00 By Nothemba Mkhondo

Describe your brand, Tshepo The Jean Maker, in one line.
Everyday functionality, lifestyle practicality.
Tell us about your journey so far. How did you established your brand?
I wanted to be a filmmaker. I studied at AFDA and during my first year I realised I wanted to become a designer, so I dropped out to study fashion design.
In 2015 I was the marketing director for Afrikan Swiss and then I left the brand and created 100 pairs of jeans and named them the Presidential slim fit.
For the past two years we've survived on this fit and cut. It is our most popular style and it has become a heritage item for the brand. 
What drew you to working with denim?
Before Tshepo The Jean Maker, I was looking for something with purpose and, most importantly, a fabric that carries that energy. I feel like denim is the only fabric in the world with purpose.What do you look for when picking denim?
The colour, the weight, weaving and texture.
Why do you primarily work with raw denim?
The beauty about raw jeans is that in time it tells your story. The fades tell us who you are, what you do, what you love and how you take care of your jeans tells a story of the relationship you have with them.
What inspires your designs?
I grew up listening to stories by my mum and my grand-parents and I've always wanted to tell stories. Denim is like a canvas, I use it to tell stories about progressive African individuals.
Tell us more about your 1,000 jeans, 60 days campaign.
Starting in September, we aim to sell 1,000 jeans in 60 days independently, without a major distribution partner.
What are your tips for finding the perfect pair of jeans?
It's all about the fit, details and also just ask yourself, will you be able to see the world in those jeans?..

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