Confession: You know when a person brings their newborn into the office to share the cuteness and everyone kind of gathers around them and oohs and aahs? I’m that guy at my desk turning up the music on my headphones hoping they don’t come anywhere near me and force me pretend to like babies. But. I don’t know what’s happening lately, it could be age, it could be Donald Trump; I’m starting to find cuteness, hope and joy in the faces of little munchkins. Sometimes I even think…could I? Could I raise one? *perish the thought*
Anyway, most recently, I got legit emo when I spotted designer Sindiso Khumalo’s new instagram account (@khumalomini) for her new children’s range, Khumalo Mini (available online at www.khumalomini.com). I mean…seriously just look….admit. The only thing that could make this cuter is if the kids were swimming in a sea of bunnies, kittens, Pomeranian puppies and tiny little pet piglets.
As if the cuteness is not enough, the story behind these textiles and indeed the story of how this designer approaches her work is impressive AF. You must read this excerpt from our conversation with her about how the prints for this range came about: “Growing up as a child, I used to see all these palm trees around and I remember wondering, ‘why don’t we eat coconuts? Why aren’t they really part of the cultural landscape of KwaZulu-Natal?’ Then I did a bit of research and I found out that a lot of the palm trees we see planted around on the beachfronts aren’t actually indigenous to KZN. They’re exotic. Very few are actually indigenous. There are two types of indigenous palms in KZN that I then researched. One of them is called the Phoenix palm, and the other one is called the Hyphaene coriacea palm, which is otherwise known as the Ilala palm, and both have a real significance in the cultural landscape. I started to look a lot more into the Ilala palm, whose leaves are actually used to make baskets by weavers in Northern Kwazulu-Natal. I looked at its fruit and pulled imagery from that. Seeing as we already celebrate Ilala leaves, I thought of ways to celebrate the fruit. So my Ilala print is actually just based on the idea of stacking all these fruits up on each other. Interestingly enough hardly anyone outside KZN or South Africa really knows about the Ilala palm, but everyone knows about the coconut. That then becomes a conversation on how the exotic can come into a space and really dominate. From a textile point of view we can look at Dutch wax fabric which is from Holland. It is exotic. But it’s been such a dominating feature within the African textile environment that if you google African wax fabric you don’t find fabric from Kenya and Burkina Faso where they do actually make wax fabric. Nope, Dutch wax is the first thing you’ll see. That’s why for me it is so important to be making my own African textiles because I’d like at some point, maybe 10 or 20 years time, that when you google African textiles you will see everything from Laduma’s jumpers to my prints to Zulu beadwork to the wonderful fabric you get in Burkina Faso because THAT’s African textiles. It is really important to be aware of the idea of something that is exotic coming and almost overpowering the indigenous. When it comes to African textiles that has happened in such a big way.”
Slow clap for that. That’s just a small part of our ongoing conversation with Sindiso. The prints themselves look to a wide variety of sources for inspiration, including Durban cityscapes. Perhaps even more important is the range’s ethical approach to fabric and manufacture, all of which is made right here in Africa, with a focus on women empowerment.
Lastly, just for a spot of gossip: although Sindiso’s currently based in London, where she was completing her Masters in Textile Futures at Central St Martins – after studying Architecture at UCT – we hear she is moving back to SA along with her husband and child who also inspired the range, to continue her amazing work. We can’t wait!
Shop the range at www.khumalomini.com
Images by Hema Sabina
Models: Remi, Riley Ann, Eden, Emmy, Oaky, Ethan, Amina, Rudy
Text by Malibongwe Tyilo