Artist Zarah Cassim, who is originally from Claremont but now lives in Oranjezicht, has found a larger audience for her work by designing fashion for a large clothing chain.
Cassim and two other local designers worked with Pick n Pay Clothing on the designer-wear range due to be launched in August.
Award-winning fashion designer Gavin Rajah mentored the designers.
“I really enjoyed the mentoring experience with Gavin Rajah,” says Cassim. “I was exposed to the ins and outs of the business of fashion and clothing production, right from the beginning, starting with a concept and developing it into a complete collection.”
She adds: “I have always wanted to do something related to fashion. As a creative, I think that creativity extends beyond one medium, which, for me, is my painting. I was excited to explore another creative outlet and challenge myself in this way.
“I know that creating clothing is expensive. There are so many elements involved. There are small businesses who are only able to produce clothing in small batches. Many local designers have been focusing on craftsmanship and quality and creating items that will last forever. It is going against the idea of fast fashion, which I think is not necessarily a bad thing.”
However, she says, Pick n Pay can produce items on a large scale and so can offer the public more affordable designer wear.
Cassim says she wanted to create a collection that was romantic, feminine and soft with an ethereal feel.
“The silhouettes are loose-fitting and fabrics are flowing, allowing for natural draping and accenting the female body. Details of ruffles and ruching are seen, snippets of 1800s Romanticism.”
She incorporated her painting techniques into the designs, starting with a sketch and working on it digitally with various layered elements.
“The result,” she says, “is something quite fun and playful. It is visually different to my paintings but maintains some similar elements in the natural subject matter. I used painted imagery of jungle-like plants and palm trees distorted from memory.”
She says she hopes those wearing the range will feel comfortable, beautiful and excited by the brightness and vibrance of the colours.
Rajah says it was wonderful to see Cassim create “wearable art”, and, “for as much as she was exposed to the commercial aspect of fashion, she taught me about the process of creating prints as an artist”.
The collaboration was about teaching designers the commercial process behind the fashion business, he says.
“South Africa has many brands and many market sectors. However, I do not agree that we do not have affordable ranges. I work with many designers, and they produce merchandise across price points. You can, however, only really create accessible products if you have the volume and the retail outlets to sell them at.”