IN FOCUS: Young designer Daniel Moleka is the owner of Red Thread Apparel X.
IN FOCUS: Young designer Daniel Moleka is the owner of Red Thread Apparel X.

HE’S only 19 years old, but Congo-born Daniel Moleka is making a name for himself in the fashion industry. Moleka, a student at Abbotts College in Cape Town, is the creative force behind a fresh street-style label - Red Thread Apparel X.

The aspiring entrepreneur and self-taught designer launched his first collection last year.

Titled Elysian, the collection was inspired by ancient Greek mythology.

His latest works consists of two different kimonos which, Moleka says, were inspired by the fact that he’s always been a huge fan of Asian cultures and their clothing style.

His kimonos were designed around the yin and yang Chinese philosophy.

The kimonos are available in black and white.

“Yin represents the passive female principle of the universe, characterised as female and sustaining. It is associated with earth, darkness and cold. So the black kimono represents the yin.

“The yang represents the active male principle of the universe, characterised as male and creative. Yang is associated with heaven, heat and light, which is what the white kimono represents.”

Moleka says the dragon on the back is an Asian dragon - or lung - which represents power, excellence, valiance, boldness, heroism, perseverance, nobility and divinity, which are qualities most humans aspire to.

“A dragon overcomes obstacles until success is his. He is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious,” he says.

When asked what makes his kimonos unlike other, Moleka says: “Their exclusivity and originality. I prefer a minimalist approach, so I release small, exclusive collections.”

The designer credits his early success to his perseverance.

“Aspiring entrepreneurs are typically very passionate, with ambitious dreams. But what really separates the wannabes from successful entrepreneurs is persistence, which is what I have in abundance.

“There are a lot of highly intelligent young people with ambition and who are inspired by having their own brand, but they are not persistent. They hit a bump in the road and go running.

“Entrepreneurs hit a bump in the road, learn from it and get over it.”

I spoke to Moleka about his Red Thread Apparel X label.

What inspired you to go into fashion?

Initially, I wasn’t into fashion. I’ve always had a thing for sketching. It started with drawing comics and then I started to enjoy sketching outfits just for fun. In a way I inspired myself to get into fashion.

How did your label come about?

I started RedThread Apparel only last year and I’ve managed to get it where it is thanks to the help from people who financed my business and the good advice from my friends. I’m excited to continue growing the label.

Who do you look up to in the fashion industry?

I admire German fashion designer Philipp Plein the most. He has a different work ethic. He doesn’t follow the rules of the fashion; he makes his own rules.

Moleka’s kimonos are made of cotton with the Red Thread Apparel X logo embroidered on the front and they have a dragon printed on the back. They can be worn with denims or chinos or even with more formal wear. The kimonos are ideally suited to young professionals who want to look smart, fresh and young.

They retail at R549 and are exclusively available from MyShopify at People living in Cape Town have the option of contacting Moleka if they prefer to collect their garments.