I got the opportunity to catch up with fashion designer Thulare Monareng at her store Fashion Collage Deli in Long Street. Thulare has lived all over the world from New York, Belgium and Johannesburg, but after helping her cousin one weekend move down to Cape Town she decided to settle down here as well.
She has always wanted a concept store and created something that is very unique. Here you’ll enter a world where rails have been replaced by milk crates and cold drink refrigerators (people thought she was crazy by wanting to buy old broken fridges) to display the clothes and merchandise. Not wanting to compromise the integrity of the store space by drilling holes into the exposed brick walls it was left as is which gives it an old school feel.
It’s quite funny seeing the curious looks on the faces of passerby’s whilst they’re trying to figure out if it is a coffee shop. This apparently is quite normal as people occasionally walk in looking to buy airtime or biscuits.
After having achieved so much from presenting at Fashion Week to having her range sold at Woolworths, finally opening her own store March this year is her proudest achievement to date. Apart from her own label her store also houses a few local designers. Thulare feels very passionately about finding and nurturing local talent as well as only using local manufacturers. Plans are underway to open a CMT to make local production easier yet at the same time empowering the people employed.
Going green seems to be the way forward for many fashion retailers but for designers starting their own label she feels that fair trade is a much more important and less challenging.
Another challenge within the industry apart from acquiring finance she says that SA is not really geared to help the young designer. Her suggestion is that there should be buyers ready to buy ranges presented at fashion weeks and that the events should be more exclusive than what it currently is.
When asked what her favourite piece of clothing is that she designed without hesitating she replied it is her pleated leather skirt. One of her favourite designers is Tom Ford as she believes he lives his brand not only through his designs but also his business ethos. She is also living her brand and as an African woman
she wants to show African fashion in the best possible light and hoping to soon open a store in Johannesburg.
There has also been lots of interest in the store from the US and Europe. Future plans include hiring a PR agent to handle the marketing. Up until now she has been very fortunate in the sense that almost every week the store has been in some form of media. Also on the last Thursday or Friday of every month Fashion Collage Deli hosts an event that centres around some form of art whether it’s an art exhibition, poetry reading, a film screening or live music.
Her advice to anyone aspiring to work within the fashion industry is to be passionate, committed and tenacious as it is very hard and challenging to be your own boss. Find people who will help you and be thick-skinned, keep going until someone says yes as you will hear a lot of no’s.
Fashion Collage Deli 219 – 223 Long Street, Cape Town. (021) 422 2774
Monday – Friday 9:00 – 17:00 and Saturday 9:00 – 13:00