Students push passion for fashion

Candace October from Parow plans to blaze trails in the world of fashion.

Two fashion students from Northlink College’s Protea campus have risen above challenging situations to pursue a career in fashion.

The pair Candace October from Parow and Yolande Kennedy from Bellville are currently at various levels of their clothing production studies at Northlink College in Parow Valley.

Yolande, now in her second year of studies, says a lack of money put her dreams of studying fashion on hold when she was younger, but now the mother of two boys, aged five and nine, is thrilled to be pursuing her passion for fashion.

“I currently run my own studio in Bellville and I am a full time student! I think time is my greatest challenge I just don’t have enough of it for all I want to do. Being a more mature student is also a challenge. I matriculated 23 years ago. I am a lot more focused and results driven,” she said.

Yolande grew up in the Midlands in KwaZulu-Natal and her mother made clothes.

“As a girl, I was her pattern cutter. She worked as a secretary during the day and made clothes for the children in the road, her colleagues and my siblings,” she said.

Fashion is the very first layer of self-expression someone shows the world, says Yolande.

“Before you leave your house you already decide what everyone is going to see about you today. Make it real,” she said.  

The down side, she says, is the high prices and the exploitation of factory workers.

Yolande, who dreams of having her own bridal shop one day, was blown away by collections at the African Fashion International (AFI) Cape Town Fashion Week.

“I loved it. South Africa is such a rich country, we have so much diversity and abundance of inspiration. I loved the different uses of textures and colours, and the African influence in the designs were quite unique and inspiring,” she said.

Both Yolande and Candace attended AFI’s master class, run by industry experts on Tuesday April 9.

Candace, who cites Karl Lagerfeld, Marilyn Monroe, Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn as her style icons, says she knew from the age of 12 that she wanted to do something creative with her life.

“I am such an artistic soul. I would paint on canvas and sell them to my family and friends. This is how I made my pocket money, at the age of 15. I bought my own sewing machine and started teaching myself how to sew. I also took art as an extra subject in school up until Grade 10 following that I chose fashion design,” she said.

She studied fashion design at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) for two years but moved to Northlink’s Protea campus due to the constant student protests and unrest at CPUT at the time.

“I am now completing my final year and will head off to complete an internship next year,” she said.

She plans to travel the world after graduating, exploring different fashion styles, before returning to Cape Town to open a business selling formal and evening wear.

I am currently saving money, doing part-time promotional work to make this a reality,” she said.