Self-expression has become an important component for the youth of South Africa. Using various means such as music, fashion, art or design to communicate their stories. So, we caught up with Shlangusethu – a designer and founder of Thefagahouse, which is a clothing line he started with his friend. He tells us about his passion for design, how it came about as well as the status of South Africa’s fashion identity.

Photo(s) Cred: Thabo Nkosi 

“I have a specific detailed market that I want to just alert, especially at the starting phase and after those people engage with my craft, then maybe the others will too”.

A lot of people are likely to have never heard your name before, so briefly tell us about yourself, who you are, where you’re from and what you’re currently doing?

My name is Shlangusethu, some people refer to me as Sethu, I’m currently an Industrial Design student at Cape Town University of Technology (CPUT).  I also run a fashion line called Thefagahouse.

What sparked the initial interest to start your own fashion house?

In 2013 I made some T-shirts that had “Ecstasy” written on the front. I just made them for my friends and I. So, we wore them to a music concert and people wanted them so much for some odd reason. I guess teenagers back then in Durban were into these drugs. I just made T-shirts because I thought they were cool to be honest. And oh, I don’t do drugs by the way. The following year one of my friends came up with the idea of selling the t-shirts we made for that concert – since people wanted to know where we got them from. But it never really intrigued me that much. At the time I was so focused on becoming a shoe designer for Nike, that was all that was in my head. Then in 2015, doing my last year in high school, my friend Mfundo and I eventually started this brand and called “Shlangusethu” but later changed it to “Thefagahouse”. We changed it because I never saw myself as a fashion designer at all. I just saw myself as an aspiring designer but not necessarily just a fashion designer.

With every label or brand, there’s a meaning behind the name of the brand or some history attached to it. Give us the meaning behind the name of your fashion house.

Thefagahouse comes from “The fashion gallery house”, I wanted to create my own word to be honest. I’ve thought of removing “The” but I probably won’t. The name doesn’t really matter to me as long I’m doing what I love and getting my point across.

Thefagahouse Jetson Chair T-Shirt

Photo(s) Cred: Gift Dick

Now, I’d just like us to dissect the creative vision and direction behind your fashion house – tell me more about that.

With Thefagahouse I just want to create beautiful products with ideas behind them. Products people can afford. Something that looks expensive but isn’t. I know Zara did that well but all they do is copy every, which is sad. Nowadays classicism drives people and I just hate it to be honest. We’re trying do what Nike did with shoes, what Apple did with their phones and Adidas as well. like those companies broke that boundary of classicism. An upper-class person can wear the same Nike shoe that a middle-class person is wearing. So that’s the whole concept behind Thefagahouse I don’t want a person to feel less of themselves for wearing clothing from Thefagahouse. That is what the world needs, businesses that wants to connect with the masses and not just people from a certain class.

Fashion has now become an extremely huge component of entertainment and media, where musicians and media personalities have personal stylists. Where do you feel your fashion house fits in with this modern era?

I don’t care much about celebrities hey, and yeah, I would appreciate a celebrity wearing something from Thefagahouse, but I would give the same appreciation to a regular man or woman who also is wearing something from Thefagahouse, we all human beings.

The internet plays a pivotal role in what influences young people or fashion-forward thinkers, as a designer how do you make sure that your product isn’t jaded by concepts that you’ve seen before?

The internet just shows us what’s trending and most people follow trends all the time. A lot of brands create and sell everything that’s currently trending. Simply because selling a trend is easy. It makes a lot of business sense cause you need to eat. Personally, I’m not a fan of that, as a designer I think you must find your own inspiration, do something of your own and never copy. Because you‘re just wasting your time by that I would say change something a little. Make it of your own but don’t copy, just like how Pablo said “Good Artists copy, Great Artists steal” or Apple’s “Think different” 1997 campaign. I’m not saying invent some brand-new stuff, nah… I don’t invent either, but I do it differently.

When it comes to any craft, your competing on a grand scale. With fashion here in South Africa, a lot of the youth and even the older generation tend to gravitate towards name brands such as Gucci, Balmain and Dior etc. As an establishing designer, what do you think is the best way to break this paradigm and have a lot of South African’s supporting local designers like yourself?

I have a specific detailed market that I want to just alert, especially at the starting phase and after those people engage with my craft, then maybe the others will too. I want someone to get something from us because he or she likes it and not because they’re “supporting”. So just know your target market and give them perfection – make them the coolest in the world.

Thefagahouse Chrome Mannequin T-Shirt

Photo(s) Cred: Gift Dick 

What are your thoughts on fast fashion shops as they tend to imitate high end fashion at a retail cost – would you say you’re for them or against?

Fast fashion retailers don’t really care about the product really, they just want to make money straight up. So, I can’t really say much about it, but am I against it?  Yes and no, yes because they copy other people’s hard work, copying creative property isn’t cool and no because at the end of the day a people have eat and they create a lot of jobs for people that have families to take care of.

A question which I feel is of importance how can people purchase your apparel?

It will be online for now and we going to put up something soon, we’re releasing new stuff these coming months, I can’t wait actually!!

Do you see yourself having a flagship store or do you feel the concept is outdated?

Yeah definitely, I want that to happen and it’ll happen, obviously not now but in the coming years. I want a flagship store to feel like the home of that brand, like how it’s supposed to as well as look dope AF with a cool interior and all of that.