KATEKANI MOREKU: SOUTH AFRICAN DESIGNER EMPOWERS FASHION WITH UP-CYCLED MATERIALS

Katekani Moreku, under his self-named brand, Katekani, up-cycles textiles and materials into ready-to-wear, gender-neutral clothing items.

Growing up in a small town like Wilverdied in Bushbuckridge, a career in fashion may have seemed a tad far-fetched for Katekani Moreku. However, the Durban University of Technology opened him to the endless possibilities in the fashion world.

Under the mentorship of Gideon Visagie, Katekani developed a unique approach to fashion that makes use of up-cycled textiles and materials which he adeptly re-uses and converts into ready-to-wear, gender-neutral clothing items.

Katekani outlines that his philosophy is inspired by re-using material to upcycle new goods; by finding discarded materials or clothing, Katekani is able to transform objects such as maize meal bags into fashionable items – or, as he prefers to say, ‘turn the old into the new’. What once were conventional and disposable objects from yesterday quickly become today’s trendy new clothes.

Katekani regularly finds materials at charity stores or discarded items; sustainably creating new pieces from unorthodox materials and combinations of objects, accessories, and textures – experimenting with not only contrasting colours, but further unorthodox combinations of different materials.

As his mentor Gideon outlines, Katekani’s worth is laced with meaning and each piece has a story behind it. Katekani begins his work by conceptualising his next piece and identifying aesthetics that motivate him. Interestingly Katekani believes in designing for himself and aims to find customers that relate to his work.

“Fashion for me is more of an art – it’s an expression. You express how you feel… You communicate through your clothing”, says Katekani. “My philosophy is fashion as expression – people need to be able to tell the way you feel from the way you dress”.

Today, Katekani seeks artistic expression through sustainable fashion and has since launched his own self-titled fashion label. “My philosophy is fashion as expression – people need to be able to tell the way you feel from the way you dress. Katekani is for the brave, the bold, and anyone who isn’t afraid to step outside of their comfort box, set the box on fire, and live outside! I’m targeting people who can relate to what I am.”

Speaking on upcycling his work, Katekani says that “I think the future is in sustainability – it is our duty as designers to meet the needs of the current generation without ruining the needs of the future generation”.

I think the future is in sustainability – it is our duty as designers to meet the needs of the current generation without ruining the needs of the future generation

Upcycling doesn’t just have economic benefits – Katekani outlines that not only is upcycling materials cost-effective, it also empowers him to express his personality and style. Katekani’s work combines bright colours with matched textures and fabrics to convey a signature style that is totally unique to him, and all the while is environmentally-friendly.

Armed with the creative vision and the technical know-how, Katekani has mastered the art of meticulously combining his unconventional materials in creating ready to wear apparels. Katekani’s unique approach to fashion lends itself to sustainability and the re-use of the old to create new and beautiful clothing pieces that are anything but conventional, uniform and basic. 

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