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BULLDOG GIN CELEBRATES THE ENTREPRENEURIAL ATTITUDE TOWARDS LIFE WITH INSPIRING NEW DIGITAL STORYTELLING SERIES
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For this piece, we chat with Fashion designer Wanda Lephoto about his work, the journey of his fashion brand, his influences, and being part of the Begin Bold campaign.
Wanda: My name is Wanda Lephoto. I am a Johannesburg-based South African fashion designer and freelance design consultant.
WHEN DID YOUR LOVE FOR FASHION AND BEING A CREATOR BEGIN?
Wanda: I think it’s always been there throughout my life. From a very young age, I was introduced to creative tools and skills. In various moments throughout my life, those skills came into place in helping me figure out my life and what I wanted to do with it so there hasn’t been just one moment where I decided this is what I wanted to become. I think it’s a battle of choosing to be it everyday as best as I can.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
Wanda: As a designer I predominantly make ready-to-wear menswear that is rooted in South African contexts and nuances. A retrospective reflection of the past and present of South African culture and identity.
TELL US ABOUT THE EARLY DAYS OF WANDA LEPHOTO BRAND AND HOW IT HAS GROWN SINCE?
Wanda: I founded the brand in 2016 after quitting my 9-5 agency job that had made me really unhappy. I showcased my first collection at a pop-up in London with 5 fellow South African designers and peers that to this day I still look up to and admire so much. The first collection I did with Celeste Arendse of SELFI who opened up her doors to me so I could make samples. She introduced at the very core of it opening up doors for young people and lending a helping hand where you could. Growth has been as gradual as it can, we’ve been able to achieve significant successes throughout our time of being present and working for as long as we can and we are grateful for each lesson and that has come our way.
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WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ICONIC DESIGNS FROM YOUR COLLECTION THAT ARE CLOSE TO YOUR HEART?
Wanda: Everything we’ve done is close to our hearts but the barber and salon series have been special as they represent the everyday South African and art forms that are often excluded from ‘formal’ art institutions. All of the work that also surrounds the church is also special to us. It’s a conversation of the future and how we can rewrite wrong colonial pasts that still impact our lives from a spiritual aspect.
WHERE ARE YOU TAKING THE BRAND FROM HERE?
Wanda: As far as possible as I can with what I have been blessed with.
WHO ARE SOME CREATORS, FASHION PEOPLE THAT INFLUENCE YOU?
Wanda: Gabrielle Kannameyer, Beediamondhead, Amy Zama and Chloe Andrea Welgemoed.
WHAT INSPIRES WANDA LEPHOTO?
Wanda: There are as many people as there are perspectives and each perspective interests me.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS
Wanda: Critical research into purposeful perspectives is at the root of how we approach most of what we do. There is no one way that we do things.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE BULLDOG GIN CAMPAIGN
Wanda: The Begin Bold campaign by BULLDOG Gin was amazing. I was involved in the process of showing my life and day-to-day tasks and approaches as a designer, how I started on my journey and fundamental things that build my world. It’s about showing people what’s possible and how they can start, and that starting sometimes is the boldest thing a person can do on their journey to success.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE BULLDOG BRAND GIVING YOU SUCH A PLATFORM
Wanda: The support and the belief in my journey. The support and belief in the story of the underdog and the freedom of creative expression.