We caught up with Zandile Makombe who is the Owner & Creative Director of a local menswear label called Zazü. We’re obsessed with this beautiful Black-Owned Female led brand and Zandi happens to be the kindest, most genuine person we know. This was our conversation.
So there we were in the hustle and bustle of Rosebank sitting over 2 flat whites and catching up on life. I had asked Zandi if she was cool to do the interview and we got straight into it.
So tell me Zandi when did you start Zazü?
So technically I started last year in terms of conception. I had an initial idea and name but I wanted to create something that reflected me better. I’m a minimal menswear designer so I wanted to focus on that.
So your brand is only a year old and already doing so well *claps twice* Tell me what does Zazü mean?
So when I started the new brand I spoke to my cousin and he mentioned Hey why not call yourself Zazu, that’s what we called you as a kid. So I decided to go with the name. I also didn’t want a name brand that was specifically my name and surname because I want to expand further in future. I mean I’m a creative so I won’t be in fashion forever. I don’t want to be stuck only within the menswear space in the future.
In its initial conception did you ever imagine it growing to what it is today?
No. Well, yes and no. I thought it would have taken me 2 years and we’re only 6 months old. I didn’t expect it in the first 6 months of business - which is unreal. It’s a blessing but on the real I’m here asking myself Was I properly prepared for this? Ha but I’m really grateful for the growth.
You recently showcased at SA Fashion Week which was an incredible opportunity for you. How did that happen?
So I was a part of the Mini Menswear Scouting competition, which is a competition they have every year. They basically focus on emerging designers and I just thought Hey let’s do this. Literally, when I entered the competition we had registered the business only a week before we went ahead with it. I’m very grateful they have platforms like this for emerging designers and seeing the other designers was really inspiring for me. So many emerging designers are doing amazing things. Process wise it was a lot - straight out of varsity and onto the runway but we pulled it off. The enter process for me was quite inspiring.
So speaking of inspiration. What are some of the key elements that inspire the Zazü brand?
Minimalism always and firstly. You don’t need all that stuff. I feel like we’ve been told that we need all that stuff and you don’t. You just need your essentials. There is beauty in simplicity. Also just being staple and focusing on your naturals. Personally for me in my design style I don’t use a lot of colour but I am thinking of incorporating them in future. As a designer in general I like to allow the fabric to do what it does and not complicate the process too much.
I love that. I completely connect on the minimalism front. So when it comes to sustainability in fashion what are your processes and thoughts on that?
In terms of keeping everything sustainable our focus is being sustainable in the little things. Fashion in general has a lot of waste and we’re partnering with a company that will take our scraps and create something out of it. I can finally give my scraps away! A focus for us right now is doing the little things like that. I’m so excited to actually do a line with them from the left over fabrics we use and see what we can create out of it.
Yes girl! It’s encouraging to hear that even small local fashion labels can be sustainable in a significant way. Okay, so last question. Where do you see menswear headed locally?
So I’m literally mentally going through all the collections I saw at Fashion Week *closes eyes* and it’s quite interesting. I’m seeing a lot of gender neutrality which is like yes I’m here for that! I mean I’m all for that because I created this menswear brand as a woman for myself. I like clean stuff and I tend to find that in the menswear sections. In terms of menswear locally I’m seeing two tangents - you either go very against the norm or very minimalistic. Yes you do find a couple in between but not really. Also streetwear may not even be a thing anymore. Everything is merging together - leisure, corporate and casual - that is exactly why Zazü exists. To merge everything together in a simple way.
Okay so now that we know about Zazü and had some industry insight I have a final question for you my friend. What are the 3 essentials every man needs in his wardrobe?
A Guide To Menswear Essentials By Zazü
The 3 essentials every man should have in his closet.
Step 1 - Get Yourself a Kimono
You need a Kimono! It’s literally your jacket and your blazer. It’s perfect for major functions and casual get togethers. You’re still comfortable and it elevates your look.
Step 2 - A Good Cross Over Shirt
Something you can wear for business and leisure. You need an item that can integrate into every area of your life. Everyone does white - go for something more neutral.
Step 3 - You Need a Wrist Piece
Something that is going to reflect your personal style in a minimal way. I have seen copper metal wrist pieces that really stand out and they would accompany any item from our line beautifully.
Photography: Zazü & Richartistry