Renowned South African designer, David Tlale, has showcased his work on local and international platforms, including New York and Paris Fashion Weeks. He spoke to Destiny Man about his achievements and longevity in the industry, following the launch of his bold bridal collection.
Tlale’s success story is testament to his talent and hard work in an industry that’s seen him rise from being a fashion designer to becoming a respected businessman and fashion maverick.
“When I got into the fashion industry, I was like this is what I am going to do, study this [fashion] and maybe become a lecturer which I’ve done already,” he explains.
Tlale says he loved being a lecturer, but he felt his calling was to create his own beautiful garments, which forced him to become a businessman.
Tlale says becoming a businessman was part of his journey from being a part-time stylist to becoming involved in wedding decor and fashion.
“While I was in high school I studied commercial subjects, then auditing. Eight years later, all these things started to come together because I had to understand the business and also be the designer,” he says.
Over the years, becoming an entrepreneur drove him from being a maverick designer to a game changer. This also offered him an opportunity to become a creative entrepreneur with an internationally reputed brand with outstanding exposure on the world’s biggest catwalks.
“I know for sure that being an entrepreneur is not a call to everybody – you need to have the guts to say that even if you going through tough times I will rise up, walk and build a business,” he says.
Starting his business from scratch meant he encountered financial difficulties, when he couldn’t pay people on time. It’s an experience that gave him a crash course in business. He has since taken his work around the world and partnered with a number of influential brands in the country.
“As an entrepreneur you encounter lot of challenges, especially as a sole entrepreneur to start your brand from nowhere. They [difficulties] are like building a business foundation, because you have to go through tough times: you rise, you fall but the question is when you fall, do you rise again, or do you stay flat,” he says.
“We learn to reinvent ourselves as a business, we learn to build a brand and say we are entrepreneurs and there will be tough times and there will be good times as well. We learn to become cognisant that nothing is permanent in the business and also when you look at people that are greater entrepreneurs – they have gone through the worst: they have been bankrupt, they filed for bankruptcy and they reinvent themselves again,” he says.
Tlale recently launched his bridal collection at Boschendal, outside Franschhoek, which he says is a continuation of a journey that started about two years ago. He says many designers shy away from bridal clothing, but the inspiration behind this bridal collection was not only to make brides feel beautiful but also to give them a fashion edge on the day.
He says brides don’t have to simply look like princesses, they can bring their own sense of style to their big day. Tlale’s mission is to promote products that are proudly made in South Africa.
“We have what it takes, we are creatives with resources and our mission is to push brands that are proudly made in South Africa,” he says.