Sakhile Cebekhulu is a mixed media artist and fashion designer behind emerging local label SASH, however he considers himself more of a storyteller. “To me fashion is an avenue for me to tell authentic South African and African stories,” he explains. Sakhile’s clothing is rooted, deeply, in his home and history. And draws from Johannesburg street style sensibilities — having lived in the city his whole life — to inform the overall look and feel of his contemporary clothing brand.
We caught up with the young Joburg-based artist to chat inspiration behind his debut autumn/winter 17/18 collection, titled Zulu Lami, which was presented at Xperience AFI Joburg earlier this month. The menswear collection seeks to break down elitist notions around fashion, according to Sakhile, while following design rules around functionality.
How did you get your start? My love for fashion began when I was in high school. It grew out of my love of art. I studied Fashion Design at the University of Johannesburg. After three years of studying fashion, I got sick of it and decided to pursue my visual art practice. But after many sleepless nights thinking about making clothing again, I decided to go back into fashion.
What was the inspiration behind Zulu Lami? Having been raised in Johannesburg, this collection was [born from how fellow] Zulu men live in the city and how they express their heritage on the streets. From taxi drivers to street vendors and men making their way to and from work, I have discovered a contemporary group of Zulu men juxtaposing their culture with the city life. The name of the collection Zulu Lami is a play on words, which have two equally important meanings. “Zulu lami” meaning my world and my Zulu, and the coming together of my world and my definition of Zulu to create a collection that envisions the contemporary Zulu man.
How would you define your brand’s aesthetic? SASH is an expression of oneself, a reflection of contemporary South Africa through clothing and a vessel for South African stories and African pride.
Who’s your ideal customer? Anyone who can relate to my clothing. Through the years I have noticed this elitist concept around fashion in South Africa, and SASH breaks down those notions. Fashion is for everyone. Wearing a SASH piece, one should feel a sense of pride not only because you look and feel good but also because it’s authentic.
Photographs by Kgomotso Neto