David Tlale Case Study

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Giving up on internal auditing, one of the highest paying careers, to study fashion could have been a futile pursuit of happiness, but the decision paid off for fashion designer and style influencer David Tlale when he launched his own label 16 years ago, and has to date reached a global presence. Tlale chats to Fast Company South Africa about his journey building an innovative brand.
What was school like for young David Tlale?
I was raised in Vosloorus in the East Rand in Johannesburg by a single mom. I studied at Dithomo Primary School and finished high school at Thuto Lesedi Secondary School. I later enrolled
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I used to see some students on campus all dressed in grunge and very interesting fashion whilst studying auditing. I approached one of them and asked him about the clothes he was wearing and he happened to be studying fashion. From there on I went to visit fashion students in their classrooms to see what they were doing and I enjoyed it from day one. It was an amazing first impression and I thought this is actually what I would like to study.

Can you tell us more about your new show THE INTERN and how it came about?
The Intern by David Tlale is a programme I conceptualised in 2012. It started in KwaZulu-Natal and I later ran it as a competition in Gauteng before it gained TV attention. The Intern is mostly focused on empowering young people and young designers who want to step up from being graduate students and get ready for the industry. Our main focus is to make sure that we transfer skills and give them the knowledge about the ins and outs of the fashion industry, thus we partner with people like FP&M Seta who are making this programme possible.

Cricket South Africa announced you as one of the ambassador for the 2018 PinkFriday One Day International between the Proteas and India that took place in February, how did this initiative come
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Our most notable accomplishment has been building a brand in South Africa, and this year we are celebrating 16 years in the industry and we are still going strong. The fact that we are still standing, growing and are now starting to supply retail stores like Edgars, Spree and Luminance is an accomplishment.
We are also starting to do much more work in the continent like in Lagos in Ghana, Cote De’vore, Paris, Dubai and New York. Now we feel like we are right at the beginning of our journey. The 16 years in the industry has brought some of the brightest and insightful experiences that you would not often be exposed to.

What are your thoughts on South Africa’s fashion and textile industry?
I believe the country’s fashion and textile industry is growing and we are at a space where we learn to understand the business side of fashion. In the past we used to make clothes without the business sense, but now we are starting to understand that it goes beyond putting together a collection and sales are one of the important aspects of the business. Our industry is producing and competing at a global stage – internationally and locally – and our products are proudly made in South Africa and tell the story of what South Africa is

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