There are dreamers and there are hustlers. The latter being people who will do anything to push themselves to be the best they can be and live their dreams. You know, those that refuse to let society limit them. Those that don’t care if they have a measly “paper certification” or not. They just dream, plan and do it! Ara Kani, a streetwear brand, was founded by one such person – a Zimbabwean man called Nkululeko Ncube, the self-taught designer and head of the brand.
In case you are wondering what exactly streetstyle/ streetwear is, it basically refers to contemporary clothing and culture of the urban population. It is a reflection of personal style which does not conform to the conventional high fashion norms and is more ready-to-wear than clothing on catwalks.
The Ara Kani brand is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I had an opportunity to speak to the head designer, who was more than willing to share his passion and experiences with us.
Why fashion design?
I’ve always had a passion for fashion that I don’t even understand myself. I remember as a kid I would take new clothes and re-style them by doing patchwork or ripping them.
I read that you that you are a self-taught designer. Is this true?
Yes I’m a self-taught designer. I never studied designing although I did study pattern cutting at a local college in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
How has the journey been so far? Any highs and lows? Have you got the chance to work with people you admire?
It’s been crazy so far. The fashion industry is not an easy industry to penetrate but lately everything is falling into place with the move I made from Zimbabwe to South Africa. I’m not really one to do collaborations but I have had the opportunity to showcase alongside Palse Homme (South Africa) who I really think is one of the best fashion brands in Africa. The highlight of my career would be winning Best Male Designer at Matebeleland Fashion Week (Zimbabwe) it was really awesome to be recognized in such a way.
Is there anything you wish you knew before you entered this business?
Not really, I always knew this wasn’t going to be easy so I was prepared for all challenges I have gone through.
What is your plan for the future?
Right now I’m focused on getting the brand out to the streets and doing more fashion shows around the continent. I’d also love to open my own shop. That would be great!
How do you feel about the stereotype of African fashion being just “tribal”?
I feel like the Western world has boxed us into this “African print” corner and we have gladly let them do it. That is why I have refused to let the African print define me as a designer. I am proudly African but I am more than African and animal print.
Is there any other thing you would like us to know?
Ara Kani will be showcasing at this year’s SS16/17 South African Menswear Week which will be held in Capetown, SA from the 6th-9th of July. There, we will debut our Black Rebels Collection.
Keep up with Ara Kani on Facebook to find out more about the show and the upcoming collection.
Ncube was able to push himself to achieve his dreams. He realized his love for design and taught himself how to design apparel that people would love. But he didn’t just end there! He moved to a whole new country when he realized that there could be better opportunities for his business elsewhere. What kinds of things have you allowed yourself to be limited by? Don’t just dream, hustle!