Undoubtedly one of South Africa's most recognized names in fashion, David Tlale has carved out a place for himself in world fashion since launching his brand fifteen years ago. With his designs having graced the catwalks of New York and Paris, David has proven his understanding and passion for fabric and flair. I had the privilege of talking to David about his work and latest designs.
Please tell me about your new Autumn / Winter line?
David: The theme for the current collection is Let's Play Dress Up. What we have done is to take the styles, silhouettes and patterns that have worked for the brand David Tlale in the past and recreated them to celebrate our fifteen years in the industry. The colours purple, greys and whites, why those colours? Because they stand for and represent royalty and decadence and I believe that is this journey that we are on as a brand.
“...We specialise in wool, in cotton, in ostrich feathers so I am saying we should take our indigenous raw materials, make them beautiful and sell it to the world...” - David Tlale
You have stated in the past that South Africa and Africa shouldn't compete against the US and the UK, what did you mean by that?
David: Trying to compete with the US or Europe or China is going to be a challenge. What we need to be doing is taking our aesthetic and perfecting it and selling it to the world. Ultimately it does become a competition but our vision should not be to try and create another silk fabric, you cannot touch Thailand or the East with silk, we don't specialise in silk in South Africa. We specialise in wool, in cotton, in ostrich feathers so I am saying we should take our indigenous raw materials, make them beautiful and sell it to the world. If we try to compete with what the world is doing we have a long way to go. When you look at what the Italians are doing, in terms of fabrication, their technology is years ahead and if we try and play catch up it is going to be a major problem. So what I am saying is, we take what we have, make it beautiful, make it amazing and people of the world will know that they won't find any product like this but in South Africa.
Please tell me about The Intern and your new assistant designer Ntando Ngwenya?
David: For the past eighteen months we put young designers through challenges or tasks of perfecting their craft and becoming greater. Ntando won the challenge and he is now my newly appointed assistant designer. His responsibility is creating collections with me with my guidance, overseeing production and overseeing the running of the business. You come from being an intern and now you're becoming an assistant designer, you can imagine the responsibility on his shoulders.
“...Our program is very different, it is very specialised. Beyond anything else it encourages craft and skill and excellence...” - David Tlale
Speaking of The Intern, I saw that it is a new reality show that is coming in July. Where did the idea begin to take your intern program to television?
David: The Intern was formulated in 2012 when I started out with two designers and by 2015 I had twelve designers. We want to be part of the game changers and we want to move fashion forward as a brand. We decided instead of doing The Intern in small towns and provinces, let's take it nationwide and the only way to do that is through television. We are not trying to compete with anyone, we are not trying to become anyone. Our program is very different, it is very specialised. Beyond anything else it encourages craft and skill and excellence.
How involved with you be with the program itself?
David: Beyond anything else it is based on my name, it is called The Intern by David Tlale so I have got to be the anchor. I will be driving the whole program. Submissions are still open, people can enter by going to www.theintern.co.za.
Are you working on any new upcoming projects?
David: We are currently working on our collaboration with Jocky South Africa. We are designing a range of underwear called Jocky by David Tlale. Our new collection will come into stores by the end of May.