Winner of this year’s African Fashion International’s Fastrack programme Sindisile Mbobo, with his label Name Brand, plans to build a purpose-driven brand. For him, clothing is the medium through which he can make a positive impact on people’s lives, by focusing on functionality and problem solving as the foundation for his designs. I interviewed him to find out more about his love for fashion and vision for his brand.
Please share more about your background in fashion?
I grew up exposed to exceptional women who enjoyed dressing up, one of whom was my grandmother. She always dressed to the nines no matter the occasion, and to protect her very beloved garments she would wear overalls over them. I started sketching my personal looks; tie, shirt and hat. The influence of my immediate environment [had an impact on me] – my grandmother the stylish domestic worker, my neighbour the city council worker with his fedora, my sister with her Spice Girls shoes. I now realize that I grew up with no restrictions. I found my undeniable love for clothing. I started my studies in fashion in Cape Town, where I interned for Arnreuby, SA Menswear Week, Droomer, Thabo Makheta, Song of the Woods and House of Monatic. This helped me gain familiarity with the South African clothing industry.
How do you like to describe your style and approach to design?
I would say, my role is to create garments that serve a purpose and utility. My hometown, Kimberley plays a role in my thought process due to its mining industry and how it filtered into workwear becoming a staple in every man/boy’s wardrobe.
Please share more about the Name Brand aesthetic and brand journey?
[I would describe the] brand aesthetic as grayscale with ascents or hints of orange like our sunsets in the Karoo. [In regards to the] brand journey, we are at the very beginning of our journey. All we have offered are concepts. We are yet to offer sustainable methods of living which are conducive or practical for our region.
Who do you see as your target market? What aspects of your design speak to them?
I’m talking to everyone, with my [specific] generation in mind. [It’s about] making life easier for us and the next generation carrying the baton. I think the utility and colourway are intriguing [to them].
Please share more about your experiences as part of the AFI Fastrack programme?
My journey with Fastrack was very insightful. I was granted the opportunity to learn about the process and how to get the best product out. I formed bonds that I am very grateful for and continue to nurture. This is a great platform to kick start your brand.
How do you envision your brand and your journey as a designer growing?
I see a business that can sustain families and employ skills development. With that being said, I understand that it won’t be an easy task, but it will be worth it. Name Brand should be able to fulfil its initial goal which is solving problems.
Anything else you would like to mention about yourself or the brand?
I am a South African lad with Global ambitions. I hope our intentions are seen and there is someone out there who has a similar goal in mind to partner with us to improve design.