A Look Into The Fabulous Fashion World Of David Tlale
Over the years, South-African fashion designer David Tlale has crafted an original and lasting brand. He has also helped up and coming designers to do the same through his mentorship programme, The Intern by David Tlale.
Tlale’s work has been showcased at the Cape Town Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week, and he has designed collections for major retailers such as Edgars. The designer recently brought edginess to the Lagos Bridal Fashion Week runway in Lagos, where he showcased his first bridal collection with magically-structured garments in playful shades of blush, ivory and colourful prints.
Guardian Life caught up with the unique designer, who has stitches running from South Africa to places many designers only dream about, to discuss his life and work.
When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career as a designer?
I realised that I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was studying Internal Auditing in 1993. In 1994, I studied Fashion Design for four years at Vaal University of Technology and graduated in 1998.
What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when starting out?
Not having a business background and financial backing, thinking that things will just work out.
What was your biggest fear when starting your own line and how did you overcome it?
My biggest fear was that the brand was not going to be accepted by the fashion industry and the public at large. To overcome these fears, I had to accept that I am an artist and it could go both ways, win or lose, and I chose to win.
What valuable things have you learned from your experience in the business of fashion since you started designing professionally?
That fashion is art; we communicate it to different species and not everyone will love what you do as a designer. The fashion industry is not a “quick buck make me rich overnight” thing. You have to work hard, be passionate and realise that every customer is king or queen of your castle.
How would you describe the perfect David Tlale bride?
A bride who is confident, comfortable in her skin and not scared to challenge the norm.
What common misconception about your business would you like to clarify to people, whether potential investors or clients?
That the David Tlale brand is too expensive and unreachable.
How would you describe your work ethic?
Disciplined, precise, over-achiever and always putting in extra hours.
What skills do you feel are necessary for a successful career as a fashion designer?
Basic life principles, discipline, consistency, punctuality, passion, respect and, most of all, understanding that this industry is for hardworking artists, not “glamour-zones”.
There is so much pressure for designers to come out with great collections season after season. What advice would you give to young designers starting out and hoping to make it in the industry?
Stay true to your craft and work hard; it pays off. Be sure to continuously reinvent your signature and always push to be always on top of your game.