Abantu Creations was founded in 2001 by fashion school graduate Nomalanga Nyanda, more or less around the time the Afrocentric look became a trend in South Africa. Clothing design has always been Nomalanga’s first love. She graduated with a BTech degree from the University of Johannesburg (known as The Technikon Witwatersrand at the time). Thereafter, Abantu Creations was born.
“I was always going to start my own brand. Somehow things just fell into place, almost effortlessly,” Nomalanga says. “Towards the end of my third year, which is the time when one needs to plan what the future will be after one’s studies, we did a screen-print project whereby my art was taken from the Abantu book. A friend and classmate of mine suggested I use the name for my brand and I didn’t think twice about it.”
Surely a fashion label with a name like Abantu Creations must have a rich history.
Nomalanga explains. “The name Abantu comes from a book I inherited from my grandfather. It’s a book that talks about the different ethnic groups in South Africa. This name also came at a time when people were very reluctant to use African names for their businesses. I took the bold step and decided I would make it work. I also believed there was a reason that the book had landed in my hands at the time it did. That’s how Abantu Creations was born.”
Nomalanga believes that Abantu Creations caters for fashionistas who love authenticity – those who don’t necessarily want to wear the latest fashion trends, but who are comfortable in their own skin.
Nomalanga says the brand draws inspiration from the cultural hub that was Sophiatown, also known as Kofifi. “It was a time that produced great musicians, writers, politicians artists and so on. It was, for me, the most stylish, most creative time in the South African black community. I studied this time when I was doing my BTech and fell in love with it. Something about this time resonated with me.”
Nomalanga believes are many style lessons to take from Kofifi, such as its individuality. “More specifically, artists can create art for a purpose and not just create art for art’s sake. Art can be used to teach and unify.”
She’s collaborated with local designers to run pop-up shops and is working with an artist friend on an exciting upcoming collaboration – but she’s keeping her lips zipped for now!
Abantu Creations’ pieces are being distributed to online shops. Nomalanga also supplies certain stores and pieces can be bought via the fashion brand’s social media platforms (Facebook or Instagram). “The next step I’m working towards is the overseas market,” Nomalanga says.
We’re certainly excited to see Abantu Creations go global!