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Twist vibrant fabric

Mpho Mokgadi


Fashion-forward designer Abongile Gwele thinks of her latest project as 'a game' that involves experimenting with texture and fabric. The result is her line of accessories using African print fabric that has become her label Apples and Oranges.

'Every single one of my designs came out of playing around with the fabric until the pieces basically create themselves,' Abongile explains. 'The prints and the colours seem to do all the work and I just get the opportunity to play.'

The range, which she has dubbed Puppeedog, began with her creating necklaces using this boldly coloured cloth, but she has since expanded to bangles and will soon be offering to earrings.

'I may consider other items along the way but a part of me wants to keep it simple and have the necklaces as the core focus.'

Of the use of African wax cloth, she explains that the contrasting colours create conversation. The reaction from the public reinforces this, with many people enjoying her different take on accessory design.

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Abongile says she got the name from the idiom 'comparing apples and oranges'.

It is her hard work and style which might be attributed to her being named one of just 40 Emerging Creatives for the Design Indaba this year and it's no surprise considering the big plans she has for her business.

'I believe this to be a good opportunity for me to truly mark the Apples and Oranges presence on the design scene, and to have the brand brought to the attention of a really wide audience. I'm absolutely thrilled.'

Her hope is to give South African designers exposure under the umbrella of Apples and Oranges. 'I think it is always a basis for success when like-minded creatives work towards a strong vision. I would like to see the average South African shopper excited about shopping local.'

'I have a project focused around three young South African well known personalities where we will be creating a range around them. The people chosen are very relatable to the masses and engage well with Apples and Oranges. The first range is around Rhythm City actress Nolo Phiri which will be launched in April.'

Meet Abongile and view her work at the Design Indaba Emerging Creatives exhibition, running from 17 to 21 February at the Watershed Mezzanine, V&A Waterfront.

Follow Apples and Oranges on Instagram.