CBD-based fashion designer, Daniel Moleka, is only 19 years old, but has already made it big in the fashion industry.
The young designer has been invited to showcase his newest collection, called Immortal, at the very first Fashion Street Show in the history of the Cannes Film Festival in collaboration with the international TV channel, LUXE-TV, in May.
“I’m very excited. I look at the email every day. I think I’m going to do good, but the pressure is on.”
Daniel, who grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said fashion had always been a big part of his life.
“My mom always bought me designer clothing. I also spent a lot of time in Paris growing up, and I loved the industry and the shops there.”
Daniel has also always had a passion for drawing, and initially wanted to become a comic book artist, but then fashion chose him, and he decided to combine his love for comics and drawing, and incorporate them into his designs.
“Comics really impact my thought process when creating my garments. I don’t really see myself as a fashion designer, but more of a creative director. I don’t sew my own garments – I work with another designer, Jean Paul Larmy, and he teaches me how to put the garments together.”
And while his business, RedThread Apparel X, is already two years old, Daniel is still studying, and is currently in his first year of a fashion merchandising course at Fedisa fashion school in the CBD.
“This course is teaching me a lot. There is so much that I don’t know about the industry. I started my business on a hunch, so now I’m learning, and I can put whatever I learn directly into my business.”
Asked about his collections, Daniel said this was the second big showcase he would be undertaking, the first one being the Fashion Distribution Show at the Castle of Good Hope last year, where he showed his No Zleep collection.
“This gave me an idea of what to expect of a fashion show. The collection was simple street-style fashion, like T-shirts.”
He said he felt more pressure now that he was working on the Immortal collection for Cannes.
The name of the collection was inspired by two of his uncles who died, he said, explaining that the only way people could be remembered was if they left something behind.
The collection will comprise 15 pieces, and will be the first time Daniel will dabble in haute couture. He designs mostly men’s clothing, but many of the pieces are unisex.
He said he would eventually make the move to a women’s collection but, for now, he was trying to make men’s fashion “wilder”.
Daniel said the Street Show at Cannes served as an opportunity for him to build his brand and also to get buy-ins from, and network with celebrities.
“It will be a life-changing event for me and the brand. It’s like going straight from Cape Town to international.”
Daniel said moving to the city centre was a good move. “I used to live in Plattekloof, but now I’m in a good space. I’m close to everything and I have many networking opportunities here. I’m also near to fashion shows and to the creative people. I have access to many designers and their work.”
Asked about fashion in the city, Daniel’s impression is that Cape Town has its own style. “People here are fashion forward, but a lot of them still follow trends.” Daniel’s message to the youth is to “follow your dreams”.
“I know it sounds like a cliché, but you are your biggest competition. Keep on striving for what you want to achieve, and if you believe in what you do, you can be successful.”