Conversations In The Breathing Space With Phumelela Malinga of BY PHUME

Joburg-based fashion designer and mechanical engineer, Phumelela Malinga was part of the 2020 Design Indaba Emerging Creatives programme. He established his brainchild, BY PHUME, an androgynous statement brand as a student at the LISOF School of Fashion Design in Johannesburg, because he was intrigued and influenced by the lack of variety in menswear. Think clothing with no conformity to gender binaries employing rich and vibrant colours and bold prints, tailor made for wherever you may fall on the spectrum. He says that the way that we present ourselves, “Is a matter of freedom; the freedom to express yourself in a way that you’d like people to see you – if you think about how you dress as an extension of the self.” The Halls Breathing Space mentee brings us up-to-date about himself and his thoughts on creativity.

What helps you focus on an off day?

“Definitely music. For me it’s like whenever I feel lost, whenever I’m not feeling so good music just really recenters me. It cuddles me, it caresses me, it just resets me quite nicely.”

Tell us about your creative process.

“My creative process is not rigid, it’s not something that’s super strict. Usually I have inspiration, so I do a lot of observation, I do a lot of research and then that inspires me to create. So I think there’s a bit of looking outwards first before looking inward.”

What is the caffeine that keeps you going?

“First of all, we’ve gotta make this bread, we’ve gotta make this money – that definitely keeps me going. But I think arriving at a point where I really have a good understanding of my purpose and living in my truth keeps me going.”

How did you know it was time to breathe new life into your passion project and pursue it as a career?

The truth is, I’ve always known. I just didn’t always have the confidence or the audacity. You have to have a certain amount of self-belief to pull something like a creative career off. I didn’t always have that audacity but one day I woke up and I did, and I knew without a doubt that this is gonna be my career.

What was the highlight of this experience?

“I think for me when I was chosen as a young emerging creative on the Design Indaba platform was a big deal for me because some of my favorite local designers have been part of that program, and it was really reaffirming for me to also be chosen as that, it means in on the right track. And this was in 2020.”

Who are your five biggest South African Fashion influences?

“When I think about fashion influences in South Africa, I think about people that have really embraced their identity and made that work for themselves. People like Thebe Magugu, people like Rich Mnisi, even that guy Mzukisi Mbane from Imprint, Palesa Mokubung, Laduma (MAXHOSA). Those people really inspire me because they’ve made it internationally and that’s what I’m trying to do as well.”

Watch this space to see more from Halls’ Whatsapp chatbot extending the knowledge shared to the general public and giving YOU a chance be mentored, and inspired to breathe life into YOUR passions with Karabo Poppy.

Halls is dedicated to helping the world breathe better. With Cola Burst and Ice Tea Zing, you’ll have the breath, conviction and determination you need to live life to the fullest and achieve your aspirations, whatever they might be.

So go on, Mzansi: Breathe for it #UngapheliUmoya

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