I’ll go ahead and call Trevor a ‘reluctant hipster’. Okay, okay… He’ll probably give me many a reason why he ain’t no hipster, but hey- meet our latest Skattie Fav: Trevor Ntombela. Trevs is one of those Durbanites I find to be quite passionate about their city and while many creatives leave the city for the bright lights of Jozi and, others, to live under a rock in Zilleville, this fashion buyer seems content eThekwini. We enjoy Trevor’s signature, slick, sports-meets-chic Africa sense of style and find it to be a little bit daring in a city that I, personally, often find pretty much conservative on the style front. Please note, conservative and ‘not fashionable’ are not actually the same thing (before Durban throws an Indian Ocean wave this way to swallow me whole). I sent Trevs a few questions, talkin’ ‘bout his views on Durban, South African fashion, style and all that.
Durban is not often seen in the same light as Joburg and Cape Town. Being a Durban native, what would you say sets the city’s creatives apart from those in both JHB and CPT?
It’s always a strange phenomenon when people classify us Durbanites as the less fashionable, less stylish or too laid back distant cousins of the other cities. I mean, we gave birth to some of the most creative fashion designers in the country. The likes of Gavin Rajah, Gideon and (Craig) Native, just to name a few. So, yes we might not work around with Avant Garde works of creation but we are a creative bunch nonetheless. What definitely sets us apart is originality, diversity and individuality. Without sounding shady: I just believe the Jozi crowd is infested with clones of each other- its mass not niche. I’m not very clued up with the CPT creative clans but from what I’ve been exposed to, androgyny is the order of the day and that just won’t fly with my slow evolving city .Durban’s creative crowd in general is not so bold nor out of the box. They probably occasionally get things wrong, but according to whose criteria? They’re still true to themselves. The issue is that Durban still has very backward thinking inhabitants, so it’s hard for the creatives to really push themselves in public, and so we find ourselves meeting at strange spots in the cover of the night, but believe me, the nocturnal creatures that gather there are original and diverse.
Is there a fashion community to speak of in Durban or is everyone kind of working in silos? There is a cult and it’s growing. Thanks to events like Red Eye and Cool Out Vintage, the street culture movement is also on the rise. There’s always a sense of Jozi dejavu when I attend, but it’s more ‘Kasi’ than ‘Detroit’.
Some of the country’s most talented designers are based there. Looking at the fashion scene now, are there any there are Durban designers you think we ought to be taking a serious look at? I’m not big on the more ‘haute’ type of fashion but I believe Zarth is brilliant at what she does. She has turned a young brand into something that could basically takeover the market share in her category. Miles Lutuleigh, reminds me of McQueen- extremely creative, but needs to be centred. His work is ground-breaking, which is rare in menswear. Meek Malo is already supplying a local boutique store. His denims are epic! Gravitie for his sellable silhouettes in brilliant prints. Thembeka Yadah is already making waves. She’s just been to London for a showcase and I believe she’s going far.
About you, now: what do you like most about Durban?
As cliché this may sound, I really am obsessed with our weather: the sun, sea, sand thing never grows old. I also really appreciate the new breed of talent bubbling under. I seriously believe we are the epicentre for the next wave of incredible designers to take SA by storm. History proves it. Check our track record!
What do you hate the most about Durbs? Our Townships are slow in accepting the creative movement. I envy the cosmopolitanism that Soweto has. It’s strange to know that a lot of these creatives are still frowned upon for being different in their neighbourhoods, which goes back to the whole “backward” thing.
Words By Sandiso Ngubane
Images supplied by Trevor Ntombela