Meet the Designer

Shweshwe renewed: Amanda Laird Cherry on her latest collection

Fashion designer and founder of The Space, Amanda Laird Cherry, has revisited the archives to give her signature look a fresh twist for Spring/Summer 2019. She tells us more

14 April 2019 - 00:00 By Nothemba Mkhondo

What drew you to become a fashion designer?
I have always loved proportion and fabrics and clothing and I was an avid, very considered shopper.
When I thought about what would be viable as a business, clothing was the winner because you can use your artistic side, you're creating art, and it's like sculpture because you're making it for a three-dimensional body.
And then you have the opportunity to tell stories and create drama and theatre in fashion shows, and I found that was the perfect combination for me.
Who is the ALC (Amanda Laird Cherry) woman?
I like to think that we're designing for an aesthetically conscious customer and, in some ways, they're a thinking person and not just a follower of fast-fashion trends. They're more interested in good fabrics and they'll balance core pieces that are timeless with one or two complementary on-trend pieces, so they know they're not wasting money and they can mix them in.
I feel like they are aware of our commitment to South African production and the sustainability around that. I believe we have customers who understand what we're trying to do in the local market.Tell us about the new Spring/Summer 2019 collection you showed as SA Fashion Week.It was quite a lot about reflection and pausing to think and going back to the archives of stuff we'd done before, giving a sort of updated overall view of what the brand has had in the past in fresh spring colours that are easy to wear. So some of them are more pastel and some are more terracotta, and the combination of it is not just like ice-cream colours - it's been fused.
Very important is our commitment to shweshwe. The fabric we used is a shweshwe that we've overdyed ourselves with our own colour - it's very personal to the brand.
How has ALC changed over the years?
Hopefully we've changed in the right way with the times. We are contemplatively reactionary, if that makes sense.
Sometimes you can just do what you feel like doing and not be restricted by what you're planning, assessments and analytics are saying, and then you can see how people respond. At the same time, if you only go by analytics, you'll get stale. And if you only do new things, your customers who have been with you might not understand. So there are so many aspects to the business that you have to learn.

I think that's what I've learnt along the way: that it's not just about the creativity, it's about the fusion of the numbers, the planning, the analytics, who your suppliers are. But of course, there are core threads of aesthetics that have pulled through to today.
Tell us about your love of shweshwe.
I did my graduation range in shweshwe. Shweshwe has always been at the core of my love for fabrication and I'm so excited that, over the past few years, we've been able to bring it into every season. There were times when I wasn't doing any and my mentors would ask me, "You're known for shweshwe. Why aren't you doing it?"..

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