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Thando Maseko is aiming higher than the sky with her desire to become one of the biggest fashion mavens in Eswatini. The 24-year-old Eswatini born and bred female is currently pursuing a degree in Textile, Apparel Design and Management at the University of Eswatini’s Luyengo Campus, where she is doing her final year.

“I absolutely love creating and I believe I’m pretty good at it too. I do a lot of sketch art and fashion illustration,” she says.
The young woman also makes her own clothes, which she also models. She shares with STYLE about the journey she is excited to see unfold.

1. What inspires your fashion taste? I could never settle on a specific style, my friends always said I was a seasonal dresser. Basically what that means is that I simply like experimenting with clothes. So in terms of fashion taste and inspiration, I’d say I’m drawn to people that stay true to themselves no matter the backlash. I love the idea of freedom to express myself. It may be through music, the physical self, food, architecture, a specific culture, subculture in any respect really. That is what inspires me, it’s never something specific.

2. When did you start fashion design? I started 2016 at university as means to help me get by. I needed money for food and I could sew, so figured I might as well start making clothes for people. Personally, I’ve been sewing all my life, but I bought my current sewing machine when I was doing my second year. It’s been working out fine and I am hoping to upgrade to an industrial one eventually.

3. Has it always been a path you have wished to follow? The fashion industry has been the only industry I could see my existence and I truly fill fulfilled. Fashion is the only language I speak and I know that sounds so cliché but it truly is. Growing up, I would watch the America’s Next Top Model and dream to be a contestant one day. I simply wanted to model; however, I knew I could never because I’m too closed off.  The industry is so cut-throat I wouldn’t last a day. So I figured I would be better suited in the background. I leaned that nothing would stop me from creating the outfits that the models wore. It was even greater for me, which was to showcase in some of the continents with bigger showcases. With God willing, I am able and that’s all there is to it.

4. How do you stay relevant with the pieces that you create? I try not to concern myself about being relevant when it comes to my work because I feel like the moment you do so, you tend to lose parts of yourself in the process because you’re going out of your way to conform to the ideas people have of you. I’m not trying to make people fall in love with me. I’m trying to build my personal brand and build my portfolio so that when the door I am meant to walk through finally opens, it finds me ready. If and when people understand and appreciate what I do I’m grateful to them from the core of my existence, but if not, I keep it moving.  
5. Who is your biggest fashion icon? Biggest fashion icon? Gosh, right now I am personally vibing with Rich Mnisi, who is a gift that keeps on giving. I knighted him because that is who he is, I love and respect him so much, his work is insane, and those are facts. Yes sir.

6. Whom would you wish to work with locally and internationally? A couple of names come to mind locally, Sakhile Simelane is our very own gem. If people are sleeping on her they had better wake up, sprinkle holy water on their heads and pray for deliverance because I promise you, she is international status. So, being able to work on something with her would be amazing. Then there’s Drina (@drina.got.grills), who is another liSwati model with wild dreams. I recently had the opportunity to create with her and that was such a special moment to me because I always thought she was amazing. I openly welcome more opportunities like that.
There are a couple of photographers on my bucket list as well, namely @shotsbyngezi, @mbulelo_photography and @will.brown. Internationally, if an opportunity were to present itself I’d welcome it with both arms, big or small. My mother taught me to appreciate all that I’m given because it can be taken away at any moment.

7. Mention five things you do before conceptualising an idea to when it’s finished? I scroll through Pinterest for inspiration, then put on some music then I start to sketch. I also figure out how to structure my patterns by studying a sketch and then deduce how the parts are joined and what notions and fabric I am going to need. After all is said and done, I buy everything that I will require and 70 per cent of the time I repurpose old clothes.

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