Image: Merwelene van der Merwe

You are very invested in keeping the line authentically African, and each collection pays homage to different parts of the continent. Can you tell us more about what goes into putting a collection together? At KISUA we always look to the past and find a way to merge something old with something new. We look at traditional African attire and fabric from different countries on the continent. We usually start by breaking down old traditional elements such as Ndebele wall paintings from South Africa, Kente cloth from Ghana or the Himba dress from Namibia. We then take inspiration from these elements to create something contemporary. The African landscape also offers us many colours, textures and shapes. We play with new shapes, draping and sketching until we arrive at a concept that is balanced yet exciting. Our aim is always to create something beautiful and wearable for the cosmopolitan woman.

You started off as an e-commerce site and then branched into the pop up space before launching your store in Hyde Park. How has this model helped your business? The internet is my favourite fashion invention of all time. It is the most powerful tool by which brands and consumers can interact and transact directly with each other regardless of their geographic location. We deliver beautiful contemporary African fashion pieces to the doors of consumers all over the world because of the internet. This strong online presence helps to create excitement and demand for our physical retail stores. We now have two physical stores in South Africa: Menlyn Park Pretoria and Hyde Park Johannesburg. Additionally, we have distribution centres on three continents: Africa, North America and Europe from where we fulfil online orders from anywhere on the world.

Tell us about the designers behind each collection. Who are they and how do you work collaboratively with them? We worked with a carefully edited group of designers from across Africa who have been scouted to work alongside KISUA on collaborative capsule collections. Previous collaborations include Tina Lobondi (DRC) and Poqua Poqu (Ghana) among others. We also produce collections designed by our in-house team.

What is the founding philosophy behind Kisua, and how do you continue to translate this into each collection? We are passionate about design and proud of our African heritage. We create products that retain their African soul but are modern and wearable.

How did the partnership with Yoox come about and what does this mean for the brand? The YOOX team discovered KISUA on the internet and reached out for a conversation which has resulted in three collaborative collections. These cross-continental collaborations combine the vibrant Africa prints for which KISUA is well known, with classic Italian silhouettes that speak to YOOX’s Italian roots. The most recent collection was designed and manufactured in Africa. The garments were made in South Africa with fabrics sourced from Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

What can consumers expect from your new pop-up store? A piece of contemporary African elegance, now finally around the corner for fashion lovers in Pretoria.  

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