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Labels To Watch: 5 South African brands that reflect the richness of Africa’s fashion

By Susan Zijp


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SS24 Isabel de Villiers at South Africa Fashion Week Credits: Isabel de Villiers

South Africa Fashion Week (SAFW) has enjoyed a good reputation for decades. Founded in 1997 by Lucilla Booyzen, the biannual event takes place in both Johannesburg and Cape Town and presents an important opportunity for retailers to discover the richness of African fashion.

South Africa is a breeding ground for fashion talent. According to fashion designers from the country, social and ecological awareness play a major role in the local fashion industry. This means that sustainability is a given and local production is of central importance.

This year, the shows of SAFW for SS24 took place from 18 to 20 April at the Mall of Africa in Midrand, Johannesburg. Here are five inspiring fashion labels to remember from this season.


Viviers was founded in 2019 by Lezanne Viviers. The label's clothing is "infused with masculine, traditional tailoring and organically draped, flowing pieces that are often associated with conventional femininity", according to the founder. 

Creative director Lezanne Viviers Credits: Viviers

During the SS24 fashion show at SAFW on 19 April, Viviers presented an impressive collection. "The interplay between traditional and conventional, the constant balancing between these extremes is evident in our choice of fabrics: organic and natural fibres made from technical and industrial fabrics, such as upcycled nylon or recycled plastic," explained the designer. 

Viviers SS24 Credits: @eunicedriverphotography
About Viviers
  • Founded: 2019 by Lezanne Viviers.
  • Best sellers: Items that are versatile and unisex, like the maxi dress, pants and jumpsuits.
  • Target group: Everyone who loves quality, community, luxury and art.
  • Points of sale: By appointment via the Atelier and flagship store Glasshouse, via the online shop and in the Merchants on Long boutique in Cape Town.
  • Prices: Up to 190 pounds.
  • Production: In a local workshop by a team of tailors.
  • Contact: info@viviers.studio, www.viviersstudio.com, +27 65 617 6659.


South African fashion designer Gugu Peteni, who presented her SS24 collection at SAFW on 20 April, has several years of experience in the fashion industry. She studied fashion and textile design at Nelson Mandela University before working for three years as a designer and retail manager for the international mohair manufacturing company Mohair SA. In 2019 she founded her fashion label Gugubygugu.

Gugubygugu Credits: Jesse Claasen

The SS24 collection entitled ‘Manufactured not Made’ is a luxury streetwear collection for men. With the collection, Peteni wanted to show the process behind the scenes of clothing production and depicted parts of this process in the designs of her garments. 

Gugubygugu SS24 Credits: @Vineimage

"The aim is to shed light on the process of creating a collection. By revealing the process behind my designs, the work is more respected. So why not strip away the layers and show what it really takes to make a garment? This collection invites you into my studio, where each piece tells a story and gives an insight into the world of manufacturing," said Petini.

Gugubygugu SS24 Credits: @Vineimage

About Gugubygugu

  • Founded: 2019 by Gugu Peteni.
  • Best sellers: Cargo pants and sweaters.
  • Target group: A wide range of demographics, from young adults to adults, depending on whether they purchase higher-end products or the ready-to-wear collection.
  • Points of sale: The items are only available through the brand’s own online shop.
  • Price: Between 15 and 385 pounds.
  • Production: In a factory in Pretoria, South Africa.
  • Contact: info@gugubygugu.com, T: 067 120 0881, @gugubygugu (Instagram, Facebook, etc).

Isabel de Villiers

"Buy less, buy better" is Isabel de Villiers' slogan. She is the owner of the fashion brand of the same name and one of the most size-inclusive designers at SAFW. Founded in Cape Town and now based in Pretoria, the brand produces fashion for women of "all shapes and sizes". The design aesthetic consists of clean lines and figure-flattering silhouettes, while signature pieces include laser-cut garments.

"We were inspired by the African art world and the resulting techniques. We have incorporated the Punch Needle work of local artisans, Julie Punch Baby, into our Fashion Week collection," explained the designer. "We are also collaborating with The Sijwa Project on hand-embroidered Pan-African pieces. These pieces are very special and showcase the craftsmanship and skill of African artisans," she added. 

Isabel de Villiers SS24. Credits: Isabel de Villiers

The brand produces everything itself. "It's so nice to have the entire process under one roof. We only produce a small quantity of each item to ensure quality and exclusivity," said de Villiers.

Isabel de Villiers SS24 Credits: Isabel de Villiers

About Isabel de Villiers

  • Founded: 2012 by Isabel de Villiers.
  • Best sellers: Maxi wrap dresses, jumpsuits and 'laser cut apron' dresses.
  • Target group: Professional women that are pioneers in their field.
  • Sales points: Online: Own website, the web shops Equilibrio and The Local Edit. Physical: Studio & Showroom, Faerie Glen (Pretoria), Konvooi, Melville, JHB, Africa Rise, Sandton City, JHB, Juniper & Jasmine, Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria Eva Boetiek, (Stellenbosch) Diana Loon (Knysna) Sole Ateljee, Windhoek & Swakopmund, Namibia.
  • Price: From 40 to 430 pounds.
  • Production: Isabel de Villiers makes each garment from start to finish in Pretoria. She designs her own patterns, sorts them by size, sews them on the machines and fulfils all orders in-house.
  • Contact: www.isabeldevilliers.com, 0844418222, isabeldevilliersclothing@gmail.com, Studio: 654 Duiwelskloof Street, Faerie Glen, Pretoria, Gauteng (nach Absprache) .


Belhauzen is a label aimed at people who like eye-catching fashion but also value durability and timeless design. "These are people who want to invest in high-quality pieces that are not only fashionable, but also durable. Innovation is combined with environmental awareness," explained founder Belinda Venter. 

Belhauzen SS24 Credits: Belhauzen

"This discerning audience appreciates fashion that promotes and expresses individuality while having a positive impact on our planet. They are not just buying clothes, they are investing in a sustainable and stylish future." 

Belhauzen SS24. Credits: Belhauzen

Fashion label Belhauzen presented a unique blend of African fashion and modern style at SAFW on 18 April. "I use bright colours, bold patterns and traditional African fabrics and motifs. Each piece tells a story. It celebrates the rich cultural heritage and diversity of African art and craftsmanship," explained founder Venter. 

Belhauzen SS24 Credits: Belhauzen

About Belhauzen

  • Founded: 2021 by Belinda Venter.
  • Best sellers: Linen blazer and wide leg pants.
  • Target group: People who love unique fashion, sustainability and timeless design.
  • Points of sale: Online via the brand’s own website: www.belhauzen.com. And at Plain Tiger, Slate Boutique, The Modelist.
  • Production: All garments are made by a small team of skilled artisans in the heart of Cape Town.
  • Price: Between 25 and 125 pounds. The company also specialises in made-to-measure items such as bridal and evening wear, which are priced individually depending on the design.
  • Contact: T: 0672207818 E-Mail: info@belhauzen.com.

Heart & Heritage

Lesley Whitter is the founder of Johannesburg fashion label Heart & Heritage. On the news platform Twyg, you can read how Whitter worked for years in her mother's basement to build the brand since it was founded in 2013. On 20 April, she presented her SS24 collection at SAFW. 

Lesley Whitter, founder of the Labels Heart & Heritage Credits: Heart & Heritage

For the SS24 collection at SAFW, the brand showcased a range of handmade garments, such as hand-painted fabrics. According to Whitter, the limited availability makes wearing the designs exclusive. 

Heart & Heritage SS24 at SAFW Credits: Heart & Heritage

The founder's designs are inspired by the diversity of her South African clientele and their stories, said Whitter. "Our surroundings inspire us. We design for all fits, including African ones," the designer added. 

Heart & Heritage SS24 Credits: Heart & Heritage

About Heart & Heritage

  • Founded: 2013 by Lesley Whitter.
  • Best sellers: The signature styles sell well, particularly the Kyoto skirt and Regent dress. The Bow dress is the best-selling piece.
  • Target group: Working, fashion-conscious women between 30 and 65 years old who lead a productive life. They typically need comfortable everyday clothing with a touch of luxury that fits this lifestyle.
  • Points of sale: Retailers Convoy, Equilibrio, Adele Catherine and Kamers Makers.
  • Production: Production and design takes place in a workshop in Craighall Park. Customers can watch the process and sewing of their clothes while shopping. The Heart & Heritage team consists of just two people, so production is outsourced to the Cloth Collective CMT in Johannesburg, a team of around 20 people. All in all, the collection is 100 percent made in Johannesburg.
  • Price: Between 35 and 100 pounds.
  • Contact: Heart & Heritage can be contacted at: The REEA Centre, Entrance B, Marlborough Avenue, Craighall Park, Johannesburg. Email: info@heart-heritage.com.

This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.NL. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.

Read more:
Labels To Watch
South Africa
South Africa Fashion Week