Oyama Gonintebe, SAFW New Talent Search Semifinalists speaks on creating unique African prints

By Lindelwa Masuku

As the fashion industry continues to evolve, young and emerging designers face new challenges and opportunities. The South African Fashion Week New Talent Search offers a unique platform for talented designers to showcase their skills, creativity, and innovative ideas to the world.

This year's theme, "Show Us Your Print," has given designers a chance to explore the world of digital printing and demonstrate how they can use sustainable fashion practices to create beautiful and unique designs.

Oyama Gonintebe, one of this year's semi-finalists, is a young and talented designer who has made a name for herself in the fashion world. With her unique sense of style and creative vision, she has captured the attention of the industry experts and fashion lovers alike.

Supplied by designer

We had the privilege of speaking with Oyama, and she shared with us her journey as a designer, her passion for African stories and her vision for the future of the fashion industry.

Can you tell us about your background and how you got into fashion design?

I have always been creative. I knew from a young age that I would love to use my creativity in my job. Fashion and design has always played a big part in my life. Both my grandmothers were seamstresses. 

One was more into the technical side of making clothes and the other was more creative when it came to creating her garments. They shared this knowledge with me. They were the base of my inspiration to pursue fashion.

What inspires your designs and creative process?

As a creative I draw my Inspiration from African stories since they are so rich and informative which enables me to create unique African prints on my designs. I am a fashion enthusiast who creates prints that allow me to set up a topic to let people converse on how the garments look and how it makes them feel.

Can you tell us a little bit about your style and aesthetic as a designer?

Our refined assortment of luxury wear styles is influenced by African ethnic cultural clothing. Asymmetrical long skirts, layering, and loosely fitting shapes make up the majority of our striking items.

I received my ideas for layering from the Xhosa tribe since I grew up with ladies who enjoy layering clothing and combining various rich colours.

There would be a lot of layering and covering in women's traditional attire at Xhosa celebrations. As an artist, I mostly draw inspiration from African stories since they are so rich and informative.

Supplied by designer

Can you walk us through your experience as a semi-finalist in the South African Fashion Week New Talent Search 2023?

The new talent search theme for this year, "show us your prints," pushed me to enter this year since our brand aesthetic revolves around prints. 

It is an honour for me to be one of the semi-finalists and to have the opportunity to design a collection that focuses on prints.

Can you share a memorable moment from your journey as a designer so far?

Showcasing for the first time, at South African Menswear Week (Grad week) in 2021 and At the All Fashion Sourcing Young Designer Competition in 2022, she advanced to semi-finalist.  Most recently I won the Mr Price Creative Collab for 2022, with my range coming into stores in Soon.

Can you tell us about a project or collection you are particularly proud of?

My Graduation collection is the collection that really pushed me as a Designer and it was my first runaway Collection which will always be sentimental to me. 

How do you stay current with fashion trends and incorporate them into your work?

I use WGSN reports and social media to collect images to see if you can create something out of it. It can be a surface design or maybe outline of your silhouette. Look at the texture maybe layering multiple fabrics or maybe in form of prints some ideas or create some fabric samples if you can.

With colour combinations I create a palette out of the colours that I like. Using the lines and shapes from my inspiration board which help me develop little patterns that can be later transformed to prints.

Supplied by designer

How do you approach sustainability in your designs and production process?

My ultimate goal is for consumers to be able to find clothing that is not limited to fast-moving trends but influenced by sustainability and African heritage. We introduce unique prints on our collections to tell the African narrative and we want to use old craftsmanship methods such as beading and weaving in our designs to introduce slow fashion. 

We employ organic printing, one of the most ecologically friendly printing methods, on materials including cotton, linen, and hemp. We produce things that are manufactured to order and can be delivered in a few days with minimal waste. We employ zero waste design techniques to cut down on fabric waste. We will continue to sell clothing online and in small batches. 

Can you share your plans for the future of your brand and career as a designer?

To be a 100% sustainable Brand in the next 2 years. Creating a small manufacturer that will be able to expose our Brand label to the market, while creating Jobs in small communities. 

To be more constantly on top of consumer trends and their constant and fluid changes. To keep the demand high and profit flowing in? 

To collaborate with local designers and retailers to make our Clothing more accessible in terms of distribution. Increase social media following and get recognition for our Brand to improve our Brand reputation.

How do you plan to make an impact and stand out in the industry?

I am a fashion enthusiast who is always looking for creative methods to express myself through fashion. My ultimate goal is for consumers to be able to find clothing that is not limited to fast-moving trends but influenced by sustainability and African heritage. 

We want to be one of the top African brands in the future funding NGO projects where small communities in SA will greatly benefit from. 

What can we expect from you on the runway finale?

This collection is inspired by Xhosa attire that has a very unique and colourful style. I have incorporated a mix of bright colours which add to the looks that are inspired by Xhosa attire. Expect bold colors and oversized silhouettes and exciting prints.

Throughout this collection, I celebrate who we are, where we come from, and who we are becoming as we take up space in society and own our stories as Africans.

Supplied by designer

As a semi-finalist in this year’s New Talent Search, Oyama Gonintebe has already shown her ability to create designs that are both contemporary and inspired. 

We look forward to her runway installation at this year's SAFW in April. 

The thread continues...

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Oyama Gonintebe

SAFW New Talent Search Semi-finalist

Unique African Prints


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