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Afro Samurai

In the heart of an African township, where resilience and ingenuity thrive, a new range emerges—a testament to the spirit of Afro Samurai. This collection, infused with the sartorial elegance of ancient samurai warriors, encapsulates boundless possibility. It marks the inception of a series rooted in the African Design philosophy, an embodiment of long-term thinking, Ifalethu, ubuntu, and the indomitable resourcefulness of townships.


In this vibrant tapestry of life, nothing is discarded or considered waste—least of all, clothing. A stroll through the township streets reveals children donning dresses sewn by their grandmothers from repurposed cotton sacks once brimming with flour. Patchwork and mending become an art form, ever-present and beloved. To mend and remake, to craft and reinvent, becomes a way of life—a life overflowing with possibilities and, above all, hope.


My fondest recollection revolves around a transformative object—a blue wool blanket gifted to me in 1978, during my inaugural journey to Cape Town. This Sotho blanket, more than a mere cover, became a gateway to endless hours of imaginative play. It would transform into a wig, a toga-like drape dress, or a whimsical skirt, reminiscent of the sangoma's ladies who paraded with their silver arm cuffs and boldly hued wool blankets on Saturdays. It epitomized a range where everything truly becomes anything and anything holds boundless potential.


Inspired by my own neighborhood, Redcliffe, nestled in rural KwaZulu Natal, I witnessed the art of intergenerational dressing unfold before my eyes. Quirky ensembles emerged, blending disparate elements into a captivating symphony of African swagger and style. Shoes too large for one's feet and garments mended and reinvented tirelessly embodied the essence of township fashion. Here, the possibility mindset reigned supreme, intertwining with the simplicity of life akin to that of a samurai warrior or a kendo master.


Me and my Sotho blanket


Design techniques and zero-waste patterning played pivotal roles in cultivating resourcefulness. Manipulating square shapes, drawstrings, and simple straight lines, the garments drew inspiration from the intricate layers of samurai armor. They shimmered with African jewelry and breathed new life into discarded textiles, weaving them into fresh textures.


Loose knits, mirroring the frailty of shanty town-style houses that may crumble if overstuffed, manifested as gauzy, sheer fabrics. Belts, complex layering, and flowing drapes adorned the garments, allowing room for transformation as the wearer's spirit desired. This range stood as a universal testament, transcending age and welcoming change as effortlessly as life unfolds.

The artistry of wrapping and draping exemplifies the range's commitment to reflecting complex ideas and lives while nurturing longevity. Each piece, a canvas for self-expression, celebrates the resilience ingrained in the township's spirit. It embodies the ethos of Afro Samurai—a fusion of African ingenuity and the timeless elegance of the samurai, forever poised to adapt and evolve.


As the sun sets over the township, the folds of Afro Samurai whisper stories of possibility and transformation. They invite us to embrace the interplay of tradition and innovation, reminding us that from resourcefulness, creativity flourishes. With each stitch and every carefully chosen textile, the range unveils a world where the extraordinary emerges from the ordinary—a world where the folds of an African township bear witness to the boundless potential woven into every thread of life.


Made in Taiwan from waste textiles, discarded and old clothes , and lots of luggage waste from a bag factory. 


More about this in Karishma Design Story

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