VNTU: Illuminating African Streetwear with Sustainability and Empowerment
VNTU is a Pan-African elevated streetwear brand. Driven by responsible design practices and sustainability through only using natural fibres or recycled fabric. In order to Make sure that waste is limited, we try to incorporate offcuts into other designs.
The goal is to give the consumer unique pieces that they can easily add into their wardrobes and wear with other pieces that they already own. Outerwear is also Gender neutral, as we try to break boundaries in terms of shopping male/female and just purchasing a garment.
How did the VNTU brand journey begin?
As a young creative fresh out of fashion school, navigating the industry has been quite a challenge. Our industry is really built on exploitation, not only in the factories making garments but also of young creatives. The idea that you need to work for free, be exploited, run around making coffee is the standard so that you can “earn your place”.
There’s also no active effort to change the system because industry players believe that they struggled and suffered and why should it be different for you. Which I’ve always found to be counter productive because you have someone in your office with fresh ideas, a new perspective and instead of having them contribute they’re running around making coffee.
I was in my final year at fashion school in 2022, presented my graduate collection and released a fashion film which ended up winning “Best New Fashion Film” at the Milano film festival this year. My graduate collection and film allowed my to be chosen as part of the TFG(The Foschini Group) Sustainable design incubation, which led to all the opportunities that unfolded throughout the year.
What advice do you live by?
My advice to young creatives is to be confident about their craft and talent. Apply for every single opportunity that you come across. There’s so many grants, programs, incubations and competitions that could really change the trajectory of your career. Even if you don’t get the first one that you apply for, continue working on your craft and continue applying for different things.
How did you get to showcase your brand at Lagos Fashion Week?
As previously stated I was chosen to be part of TFG’s sustainable design incubation which included the sponsorship for SAFW. It was extremely important that I gave this collection my all because I knew that it could change the game for so many young designers.
Being able to showcase at SAFW 7 months after my graduation in March 2023 and being able to hold my own meant that more young black designers like myself could be given this opportunity and the excuses of us “not being ready” or “not having enough experience” would have to fall away.
The collection was titled “Children of the Sun” because I felt like young African designers had inherited the properties of the Sun namely- power, energy, light and the ability to bring about a new dawn.
What defines VNTU’s unique identity in the fashion industry?
Our brand is black owned, female owned and based in Cape Town, South Africa. Philosophy is to create community, locally produce, storytelling and overall enriching the lives of people on either side of the production. whether you’re sewing garments or wearing the garments everyone should feel good about themselves.
Share the vision of VNTU for the future.
VNTU is very new but we’ll be available for purchase before the end of the year both on our online platform and the leading online platform in South Africa “BASH”, we hope to continue growing and hopefully branch out to the rest of Africa and the world.
Writer: Amanda Trom (Owner of VTNU)