ASA: What is the Artho Eksteen design philosophy?
AE: Ethical fabric sourcing and production methods are quintessential to the Artho Eksteen brand; educating and enthusing environment-conscious consumers. Garments are designed with intended timelessness and wardrobe longevity while remaining uniquely artisanal and creative.
How do you approach your designs?
My designs are an organic process, allowing each piece to evolve and change, resulting in unrestricted designs. Playing with textile combinations and colour application is equally important to the design process, but most crucial is research. My style is heavily influenced by history, drawing inspiration from silhouettes and fabrics of eras past.
Which designers inspire you and why?
Undoubtedly Elsa Schiaparelli, Coco Chanel’s Italian rival. Schiaparelli was the first designer to incorporate surrealism into her work, an artistic movement that was, at the time, more closely associated with art and literature. The witty accessories and experimental silhouettes and fabric treatments are a constant source of inspiration.
When it comes to South African designers, I admire the extraordinarily talented Sindiso Khumalo and Chu Suwannapha. I especially applaud Sindiso’s romantic silhouettes and her work with sustainable textiles and printing, while Chu’s masterful use of print and colour commendably reflects the wonderful diversity of South Africa.
Any advice for aspiring designers?
Stick to your own vision. Don’t get sidetracked by others. And take note: it’s going to be an undertaking that requires a great deal of hard work and tenacity. But more importantly, if you’re not a creative blessed with an equal measure of business acumen, hire an accountant, and pay your taxes!
Now that you’ve won SAFW New Talent, what’s next?
Continuing to show my collections at SAFW is fundamental to the future of my brand; it’s an unmatched platform to expand, promote and engage with both local and international audiences. The past few years have seen a significant shift in the international perception of South African designers and my goal is to establish the Artho Eksteen brand internationally showing the diverse talent, passion and commercial viability of our country’s creative offering.
What do you love the most about being a designer?
The concept of how fashion and identity are interlinked has always fascinated me. I love the idea of people wearing my clothes, incorporating, and interpreting them to express their own unique identities.
I like to think that when a customer purchases an Artho Eksteen garment they experience a sense of individuality and exclusivity, an opportunity for self-expression, and a sense of pride in supporting slow and sustainable fashion.
What do you personally enjoy wearing?
Anything oversized – in linen, wool or cashmere, my all-time favourite textiles. They’re always comfortable and never boring.
What item in your wardrobe can you not live without?
Undoubtedly a pair of CDC black Converse sneakers – known for their renegade and avant-garde styling. I wear them all the time. On a more sentimental and personal note; the emerald and diamond jewellery pieces given to me by my partner, they brighten up any outfit (and my day!)
What do you do for recreation when not designing or conceptualising?
Anything that keeps my hands busy; painting, sketching or even building elaborate Lego structures. It’s important to do something that is completely detached from what you do professionally to release stress and just simply enjoy yourself.
ASA: And we couldn’t agree more!
Read about all the finalists in this year’s competition in our SAFW New Talent Competition story here