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Global Designer Spotlight: Johannesburg’s Black Coffee


 

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

 

 

Black Coffee percolates at South Africa Fashion Week. 

 

By: Hina P. Ansari

 

Born in Pretoria, designer Jacques van der Watt grew up in Uitenhage, a small town in Eastern Cape. He moved to Johannesburg to study fashion. In 1998 he launched his designer label, Black Coffee and presented his collection for the first time at South Africa Fashion Week a year later.  So when he showcased his Autumn/Winter 2013 collection at South Africa Fashion Week, where it all started we couldn’t resist having a chat with him about his inspirations, career and the South African fashionista.

 

 

Jacques van der Watt

Jacques van der Watt

 

 

What made you decide to get into the fashion business?

 

I was always interested in clothing and how garments were constructed. Initially I used dressmakers to make garments for me but in high school I started teaching myself pattermaking and sewing so I could start making garments myself.

 

Who inspired you when you were just starting out? Who inspires you today? 

 

I have never been inspired by specific designers but I do look what other designers are up to mostly to make an informed decision on where I am placing the brand in the industry. My inspiration usually comes from Africa.

 

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

 

 

What is the storyboard/inspiration behind your latest collection for Autumn/Winter 2013?

 

I was inspired by traditional wood carvings and basket weaving. I was working a lot with negative space and the layering of cutout shapes to create depth. In previous collections I have worked a lot with building shapes up around the body, for this range it felt like we were carving away to create dimension.

 

 

I love the interesting patchwork and cutworks designs in your collection. What was the inspiration behind such a unique approach to composition?

 

The circular shapes were derived from a repeat pattern I created from looking at trees and specifically how the branches are structured. The more angular pattern we used on the felt was taken from a traditional wax print cloth.

 

 

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

 

How do you unwind?

 

I love watching movies and I walk my dogs whenever I get a chance.

 

What part of the day best inspires you?

 

I usually get inspired while I’m walking or if I am busy working with my hands doing something repetitive. It is usually when I am alone and not linked to a certain time of the day.

 

From where do you gather your inspiration? Streets? Culture, the public, clientele, etc?

 

Elements from nature are often a starting point. Previous ranges have also been inspired by vintage African masks, the Himba (a nomadic tribe from Namibia), traditional print and craft techniques, bookbinding, rock formations.

 

 

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

 

 

How is the ideal Black Coffee woman?

 

The Black Coffee women likes to consider the function of clothes in her life. Our mutable garments remain the most popular. She challenges the norm without needing to shock.

 

 

How does social media play a part in your overall branding?

 

We use Facebook and Twitter like most modern brands, but it is not a very important part of the business. We are very careful to keep the tone of the brand very exclusive.

 

 

What makes South Africa fashion scene unique?

 

We have a wealth of inspiration on our doorstep. The industry is starting to create it’s own trends rather than following the International ones. Recently the Media has picked up on this and started reporting on these local trends. This is a huge milestone for the local industry particularly because we are showing a different season to the Northern Hemisphere. Hopefully local trend analysts will emerge to start forecasting local trends going forward.

 

 

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

 

What makes the South African fashion forward woman unique?

 

She is adventurous and doesn’t restrict her wardrobe only to international trends.

 

What advice would you give to up and coming fashion designers/ designer students who are interested in following this career path?

 

Have a very clear Brand vision and unique signature. Know your consumer. Compile a very clear business plan.

 

What is the best advice you received that you still treasure today?

 

It’s very simple: Always make sure the work you do is the best in your field. If it is worth doing it is worth doing well.

 

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

Black Coffee at South Africa Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2013

 

 

Now that fashion week has wrapped up, what’s next on your schedule? (ie: future shows, templating next collection, vacation? Etc).

 

I have started working on the concept for Summer 2013/14, but we are wrapping up production for Summer 2012/13 so we can start producing the range we have just shown.

 

Final thoughts?  

Consumers are more and more looking for clothes with a story. This is key to our survival .

 

 

You can connect with Black Coffee via their site; Twitter: @blackcoffeeZA and Facebook: facebook.com/blackcoffeeZA

 

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One Response to Global Designer Spotlight: Johannesburg’s Black Coffee

  1. Jesica says:

    I love the shoes, life would be so much ‘cooler’ if I had them. Cutouts have never looked this extravagant before. <3

    Best piece…

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