Internationally known for its Basotho blanket garments, the brand now accompanies that imprint with a legacy of its own, a unique Thabo Makhetha fabric print.

Uniquely branded prints are big business in fashion and a key aspect of carving out a legacy. After seven years of being known for the Basotho blanket pieces, which are culturally symbolic, the designer of her namesake brand, Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana, says the fashion house is pursuing the new.

“For the past seven years we’ve been using the Basotho blanket and you’ve seen people coming up with their own versions and so on, so for us the thing was, what’s next?” says Thabo.

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“This print, if you look at it closely you’ll actually see my logo and in the middle of the logo are my grandmother’s prayer sticks. My grandmother passed away when I was about three years old but she was also a seamstress, she was very good and a lot of people say I got the gift from her. So this is like an ode to my grandmother,” she adds.

The Basotho blanket inspired garments are present in an updated way in the Thabo Makhetha Autumn/Winter 2020 collection, with another traditional blanket making face in this new range. The “matlama blanket” garments are shown in plain black and white, infused with bright bands of colourful prints around the hemlines. 

“We also wanted to showcase other kinds of Basotho blankets that people don’t know a lot about,” says Thabo.

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Apart from exploring new print elements in its designs, the fashion label has introduced new material in its garments in whites, browns and hints of deep red and blue.

“With the Basotho blanket we’re still using wool and have also introduced leather,” she says.

She adds that the new print has been developed on various fabrics including cotton, satin, duchess satin and kishibo, as well as the leather and wool blankets. These will be seen in the summer pieces as well.

“I’m still going to develop more [fabrics], I think there’s still more graphic design to play around with – the way we actually present the graphics on the garments themselves as well [could also be modified]. I think I’m going to play around that field a little bit more and establish that before we move on to the next thing,” says Thabo about the label's new print.

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With South African Fashion Week having committed to a five-year plan of a sustainable local design culture, much of that was not only reflected in this season's fashion week but also with the designers who showed the collections. Thabo Makhetha was no exception.

Thabo Makhetha showed at the Perot Museum for the Origins exhibition in Dallas, Texas, where one of its garments, an evening gown, was made with scrap pieces. In this season's runways, the brand showed accessories made from leftover fabrics.

“If you come to my studio we have buckets of leftover fabrics and we always try to find a way to use them,” says Thabo. Spoken like the true conscious designer that SAFW hopes will be a norm when their sustainability goals are met in a few years!

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