Bringing humble swag to Durban street style
Durbanites aren’t known for their hurried nature. They don’t try to match the style and pace of their big-city counterparts. Rather than burn out trying to keep up, Durban’s people celebrate their vibrancy and spice in more considered ways. Sanele Cele is doing exactly that by bringing the unique disposition of his home city to the rest of the country – with clothing. The fashion and graphic designer, who regards himself as a modern-day tailor, forgoes what others are imitating from television and social media and instead creates garments as distinctive as the people who wear them.
It’s no surprise that clothing has determined his calling. Cele comes from a family of fashion. His dad was a ramp model, while his mom bought and sold clothes as a side job, teaching her son how to find quality even in factory shops. But like any teen, Cele wanted the trendy brands he’d seen others wearing. When his parents wouldn’t give in, he picked up a needle and thread and began hand-sewing the clothing he desired. Even though he ran out of funds to complete his fashion studies, he’s still customising garments as part of his own label, Tempracha. “I’m a hard worker, so I sit down and make the stuff myself,” he says.
Despite the colourful prints he favours, his line is by no means over the top. Cele designs everyday couture that is as fitting on the catwalk as it is on the streets of Umlazi, the township where he was born. “The one thing that I always mention is the regular man, the regular person, the people that I interact with,” he explains. “I wouldn’t put out anything that I wouldn’t wear”. While Cele’s clothing is designed for street wear, his threads have been showcased at Durban Fashion Fair and worn by the likes of musicians Khuli Chana and Spoek Mathambo. With just the right combination of humility and swag, Cele is reimagining Durban style