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PROFILE: Thabo Makhetha

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Born in Lesotho, fashion designer Thabo Makhetha specialises in women’s wear produced through her eponymous company.

African fashion has always inspired foreign manufacturers with its vibrant colours & rich designs. Often however, the clothes being sold are not produced anywhere near Africa, but Makhetha is changing that by making sure that consumers finally realise that high quality & highly fashionable clothes are being produced on African soil.

Her work is locally made from natural fabrics and is praised for its quality and creativity. It’s available at the Thabo Makhetha Collective, a Cape Town store that stocks premium goods made on the continent.
She’s best known for her range of warm winter capes inspired by and made from traditional Basotho blankets, sold under the label Kobo by Thabo Makhetha.

The Kobo range has featured regularly in the local fashion magazines Elle, Marie Claire, Grazia and Women and Home, and has been covered in the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and on numerous international fashion blogs.

She established her company in 2009 after she failed to secure an internship. Instead, she launched a business specialising in bespoke women’s wear. In 2012 she was named as the Best Dressed Female at the prestigious Durban July horse racing and fashion event. The event’s theme was royalty, and her Basotho blanket coat caught the attention of socialites, celebrities and fashion editors.

“We as African youth, need to learn to broaden our thinking & invest in our ideas and creativity because a university degree can only get you so far. Learn to see the environment you’re in as a business opportunity otherwise someone else will, and they will profit from an idea that has always been in front of your eyes.”

Thabo ended up showcasing a collection called Kobo Ea Bohali (Blankets of Prestige) at the 2013 Design Indaba in Cape Town. In 2014 she made her runway debut at Vancouver Fashion Week in Canada, where she was praised for her quality and creativity. In the same year, the Arts and Culture Trust of South Africa honoured her with the 2014 Impact Award for Design.

In 2016 Elle Magazine nominated her Kobo Starburst Coat as the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa. In 2017 she was named in the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans and in 2018 Aviva Magazine named her Top 100 Most Influential Young South Africans.

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