The Watermelon Social Club -Streetwear Inspired by History

Image: Sthembiso Mchunu

Meet Sthembiso, co-founder of South African streetwear brand, The Watermelon Social Club. With Africa’s rich history as inspiration, the brand was created to tell the stories of its people. Read on for our interview with the rising designer.

1) Tell us the story behind the naming of your brand.

The name came from me doing some research on the watermelon fruit in which I found out that it originated in Southern Africa, but you can find it anywhere in the world. With that, I wanted the brand to follow the story of the watermelon and belong anywhere in the world with it being from South Africa. We decided to make it a social club so that people can feel like they belong when purchasing our product.

2) Where are clothes made?

The clothes are all made in Johannesburg South Africa by local, small CMTs (Cut, Make, Trim manufactures). 

3) What’s your design process for each collection?

We always look at which South African culture to look at for inspiration first, and from there we try and see how we translate that into modern street savvy garments. In terms of designing the actual garments, I think I source my inspiration from the people I grew up around like my dad, uncles and his friends. I sometimes find myself looking at my dad’s old pictures trying to borrow some design elements from back then.

4) Does modern culture play a big role in your design aesthetic? How?

Yes it does. We try to merge modern culture with whatever culture we are using for a specific collection to ensure that it is relevant to the current climate.

5) How often are collections released?

We haven’t been releasing collections for some time now because of financial reasons, but from here on, we would like to release collections once a year.

6) What are some difficulties about being a rising brand?

I would say it is remaining consistent with the growing demand and trying to gain consumer trust or loyalty for the brand. Getting the brand to the right place for your target market is also proving to be not so easy.

7) What does it mean to you to be a fashion designer in South Africa?

South Africa is a country with a lot of history and a whole lot of stories to tell, sourcing inspiration is the easiest thing you can do. It is really not easy being a designer here because we are competing with international brands with limited resources. With the limited resources, making quality garments and how you want to make them is another creative process on its own. Often, the garments do not come out how you initially designed them.

8) Where do you hope your brand is one year from now?

A year from now I would hope that our online store is up and running with international clients.

9) What do you want to tell the world about African fashion?

Africa is am immensely creative and with so many stories to tell. With the right resources, Africa can and will take over the fashion industry.

10) What’s your favorite: thing to do in Johannesburg? Food? Musical artist? Place?

One of my favorite places to go to in Johannesburg is Soweto, it reminds of where I grew up which is Umlazi in Durban. The food industry in Soweto is one of the most interesting things about it with food spots being creative with classic dishes.

11) Who inspires you the most?

For me it’s more of what inspires me the most because the person who inspired me the most past away 3 years ago. That person was my grandmother who I believe is the reason I am in the fashion industry. She schooled me about clothes when I was 9 years old and always told me to follow my heart.

12) What words do you live by? Why?

FOLLOW MY HEART, ever since my gran told me that as a kid it always stuck with me and I believe it has put me where I am today.