Muizenberg designer Julia Buchanan, 28, is one of three local designers shaking up the fashion industry after a collaboration with a large clothing chain.
The new range, which will be launched in August, is her second collaboration with Pick n Pay Clothing and will make designer wear more affordable and accessible to South Africans.
The partnership was launched last year with award-winning fashion designer Gavin Rajah who will mentor Buchanan, Zarah Cassim and Sipho Mbuto, to create limited collections for the clothing chain.
As a fine-arts student, Buchanan started designing limited-edition kimonos as an extra income while studying. She then changed her focus to swimwear and launched Julia, a swimwear brand, in 2014. In 2019, she launched the Creatives’ Collection and her “In Conversation Series”, with creatives around the continent, on Instagram.
Buchanan says her biggest challenge was to create something for all women that was commercially viable. She says Rajah’s guidance made this possible.
“We have known each other for a while, and he has been a great fashion and entrepreneurship mentor. He works closely with young designers and believes in their talent.”
The Pick n Pay Clothing x Julia range, includes swimwear, and Buchanan says it celebrates femininity and florals and is intended to return the wearer to innocence in a time of darkness, using the garden as a sanctuary and canvas.
Pink is predominant in the collection and represents affection, harmony and compassion. The floral print has been hand-drawn and digitally adapted with a particular focus on the poppy as a symbol of hope, she says.
“The collection pays tribute to people who have suffered during the pandemic, but it is comfy and classy and speaks of a new lifestyle.”
Pick n Pay Clothing general manager Hazel Pillay says the project has helped to “elevate local designers and local manufacturing”, while Rajah says it’s a chance for designers to flex their talent, access support from a technical and entrepreneurial perspective and understand the clothing manufacture through the lens of mass retail.
“We are slowly building a community of creatives that can lean on each other for mentorship and direction,” he says.