Nhlapo launched her fashion career trading vintage fashion garments at a street market in Braamfontein, Joburg in 2011. She customised the garments and turned them into her own original designs.
The budding talent entered the third season of the SABC3’s Young Designers competition, a reality show/competition for young South African designers, and won it.
Ayanda Nhlapo in floral kimono. Picture: Supplied.
This took Nhlapo’s design and styling career to the next level. She interned at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in 2012 and started working as a trend spotter for the international online shopping mall Spot POP Fashion.
Please tell us about your childhood
Growing up I was a bright, intelligent, talented, energetic, friendly and outgoing kid. I was always involved in a lot of cultural/academic school activities and had a great reputation for receiving trophies, certificates and medals for my utter excellence.
My confidence and strong personality has always come naturally. Being surrounded by loving, supportive friends and family is the source of my strong inner foundation, which I’ve carried out through all my years of growing up and still posses and strive not to lose.
How would you best describe fashion?
Fashion is life; in a sense I think it’s an honest expression of life in its entirety. For me, fashion is a language, an art, a form of expression, a culture, a place to belong, a place to be free, a platform to be myself, a platform to explore the known and unknown, as well as to find opportunities to bring upon solutions where there are gaps or problems.
Ayanda Nhlapo in a colourful number. Picture: Supplied.
What do you like the most about the language you call fashion?
Fashion is fun, revolutionary and exciting! What I love the most about fashion is that it allows me to be all forms of myself and have as much creative freedom as I want in doing so. Fashion also speaks for me without me having to say a word. Mostly, what I love about fashion is that it’s something which is globally a part of each and every one of us in some way or another.
As an influencer, what makes you stand out from the rest?
I am always myself with everything I do and I strive to be original at all times. I have a unique style and personality, which doesn’t allow me to follow what everyone else is doing. I have my own way of thinking and doing things. Being me is simply what makes me stand out. I’m a dreamer, believer and achiever, which is what makes me influential and inspirational. I’m proof that working hard and staying true to who you are is very rewarding.
Tell us about your TV show, Ayanda’s Fashion House. What was the inspiration behind it?
Ayanda’s Fashion House is a TV show based on the education of the fashion industry, which I hosted last year on DStv channel 190. In the same year, I hosted the second season of the show, which was titled Ayanda: Inside Fashion and proudly sponsored by Jaguar Land Rover South Africa.
Ayanda Nhlapo. Picture: Supplied.
The inspiration behind both the shows was the gap which I found in the education of the fashion industry. I felt that we need to tap deeper into exploring the fashion industry and learning more about all the different careers that one can discover and pursue within the fashion industry. I wanted people to gain knowledge through my conversations with an array of young fashion creatives, professionals and icons.
As the anchor of the shows, I personally learnt a lot as well, just from the opportunity to have engaged with so many different people and brands that are making wonderful moves in the fashion industry.
If you weren’t into fashion, what would you be doing?
It’s always hard for me to think of an alternative career path I could’ve chosen if I had not chosen fashion and TV. I truly believe that I was meant for the career path I have chosen, and I’m very content with it. However, I do remember enjoying science quite a lot in school, so I probably would’ve become a scientist. Who knows
You’ve clearly done a lot. From TV commercials, modelling, acting and much more. What would you say are your biggest career highlights?
My top three career highlights have been hosting my own fashion-based TV show, being a Range Rover Evoque campaign ambassador and winning a South African Style award.
What can people expect from you next year?
I’m looking forward to continuing my journey in working hard, discovering myself, challenging myself, growing in all senses, taking on numerous new projects and activities, creating more and essentially making all my dreams become a reality.
I have a few exciting projects in line for next year. A project that’s happening very soon, which all fashionistas can look forward to, is the South African Fashion Forum.
It’s a fashion medium and event curated by myself and my partner, and is based on growing the South African fashion industry by providing workshops conducted and led by fashion professionals in their respective fields. The first forum event will take place on February 3 in Joburg.
Ayanda Nhlapo with Instagram-worthy hair. Picture: Supplied.
I’ll also be officially launching my self-titled clothing line, Ayanda, together with my new capsule collection. On the TV side of things, I have a few fashion-presenting and acting gigs lined up, but I’d rather not spill all the beans at once.
Nhlapo has styled celebrities such as Mome, Tall A$$ Mo, Tamara Dey, Lady X, DJ Doowap, Spoek Mathambo and more. Not only has she personally styled some of these celebrities, but the rising talent has also styled the cast of Taxi Ride, a South African film by David Kau, and has styled a number of locally and internationally produced music videos and fashion films.