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Behance Portfolio Review Night Winner: Thabang Rabothata



Second year UJ architecture student Thabang Rabothata wowed reviewers at the Behance Portfolio Review night held last week at the UJ FADA Gallery, and walked away with the other top portfolio spot for the night (take a look at the colourful illustration work of the other portfolio winner here). But unlike most of the other eager attendees, Thabang was initially just there for the free beer. When he saw what was going down, Thabang fetched his laptop to present the new lookbook for his fashion label, DEAD., which knocked the proverbial socks off the reviewers. His AW/15 lookbook features norm-core meets utility inspired looks with on-point art direction and layout. We asked Thabang to tell us more about this killer side project.



Where and what are you currently studying?


Currently studying Architecture at the University of Johannesburg



Have you always known that you wanted to follow a creative path?


I wouldn’t really say that, I just always had a thing for clothes though. I would literally starve myself during lunch breaks, just to kill shit on casual days in high school.



You’re something of a creative hybrid. Please tell us a little about all the things you do and how they influence and relate to each other.


Ok well, I’m currently doing my second year in Architecture and I’m also about designing and making my own clothes. The only way Architecture influences me in creating a garment is by making everything make sense. A design just has to make sense, either to you the designer or the person looking at it. I tend to direct shoots as well, I directed two of the recent Galxboy photoshoots.



What were your thoughts and feelings attending the Behance Portfolio Review night?


Well, to be quite honest, I only attended the event initially because of the free alcoholic beverages (I’m a student, don’t judge me) so as I sipped my drink, I heard about the review of portfolios so I fetched my laptop in the studio and asked for a review. My thoughts about the review night are that it’s something pretty dope and smart, bridging the gap between young creative students and people that create for a living with a better insight of the industry.




What was the most valuable insight you took away from the experience?


It lets you see all the talented people that were right under your nose that you could possibly work with that you didn’t even know about.



How would you describe your aesthetic style and what influences it?


Hmm, it’s just different. I normally refer to myself as being almost a human so my style is basically out of this world, I rate. I think it’s really influenced by different people and places, even colours. It’s just all about what I’m thinking or which side of the bed I woke up on.



What is DEAD., who’s involved and what role do you play?


DEAD. is a South African street brand that’s about 6 months old, which is all about killing people with style, leaving you dead. Once you focus on the garments, they leave you dead basically. There’s more to the explanation of the name but it’ll probably take like two pages explaining that so yeah… I’ve got a few people involved, I have an illustrator who goes by the name Hamilton Thindisa, and a picture editor, Lebo Ximba and my photographer, Austin Malema and lastly, my main female model, Pabalelo Mashabela. I’m the founder and creative director.



What’s the concept for the AW/15 lookbook?


0:00:00 which is the TIME IS UP. Why 0:00:00? This collection was my biggest project thus far and with all the work that was put into it, it was my way of telling local street brands and designers that their time is up.



Please tell us a little about your creative thought and work process.


Everything happens after a while hey, like in terms of a whole project. This is because nothing is really planned in advance, ideas come, I work on them and if the idea is concrete enough, it stays in my mind and haunts me till the idea is brought to life. So my concepts happen backwards, first I get my collection together then I focus on the main similarity or how I’m feeling then conceptualise my ideas so they make sense with the garments.



Who and what inspires you?


Architect and fashion designer Virgil Abloh really inspires me. How he uses different materials and textures to make items seem better. Like, the garment itself could be very simple but the texture makes it pop and I feel like that’s what makes a designer, a designer. Creating a garment that doesn’t force people to stare but a garment that you can already imagine yourself in by seeing someone in it.



Jump forward ten years from now: where are you and what are you doing?


I’ll most probably be a qualified architect, co-owner to a creative company and building DEAD. Why I say “building” is because enough is never enough; gotta create forever.






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