The emerging fashion designer on using fashion as a language
Words: Phendu Kuta | Photography: Obakeng Molepe | Creative Direction: Unlabelled Magazine
Fashion graduate, online personality and emerging fashion designer Yaone Refentse’s sense of style is minimal yet distinct with a global flair.
She describes herself, quite frankly, as just a girl that loves clothes.
“Fashion is a language – it’s how I communicate and it’s magical when people understand what you have to say without you actually saying anything.”
Born in Thamaga, Botswana, she has lived in the UK and Cape Town before settling in Pretoria, where she completed her studies in Fashion at Lisof. Having grown up in Botswana, “a very conservative, traditional country where people laugh at you if you think outside their tiny box”, feeling restricted made Yaone want to push boundaries more and in doing so, she eventually found her signature.
Since attaining her degree last year, Yaone took a gap year for figuring out the direction she’d like to take. Her plans include getting her brand up and running in 2018 and perhaps moving to Europe for a while in the next few years. In her words, “I’ll go where the vibez take me.”
Her style is distinguished and perhaps that comes from having strong notions. “I really hate wearing what everyone else is wearing. As individuals we can’t look like a collective. Colours, sounds, anything unconventional and how whimsical life is – that is what inspires me.”
Yaone x Yaone Refentse, or simply YXYR, her upcoming clothing label from which she wore a design at the last SAFW, was a plan for much later in life, but the cards fell into place and she has the opportunity to work on the brand now.
“I was so frustrated not being able to find what I really wanted to wear in stores so I had no choice but to do it myself. The brand is very much a reflection of my current headspace and my opinion on where the world is and where I think it should be.”
“The brand exists for anyone who questions the rules, anyone who’s a free thinker and anyone who knows they were born to be iconic. The brand is a manifestation of originality.”
Nailing every look is something she achieves effortlessly and her trick is to play with colour, silhouettes, proportions, print and textures, not overthink it and most importantly, carry herself with sass and grace.
Describing her three outfits she styled for our shoot, she says, “Sometimes I like feeling like a cupcake so I paired the fluffy pink sneakers with the tweed pink skirt, Kappa tee and my milkshake bag, 'cause it brings all the boys to the yard. There’s something psychological about an all white outfit so I wore a shirt-dress with Air Force 1s, and because comfort is key. And in the third outfit I chose denim culottes and a button up with 'Inspire Others' printed on the pocket, because that’s what I want my work to do.”
Yaone adds that these outfits aren't event specific and could be worn anywhere: to the bank, a lunch date, or an industry event, and wherever she needed to be, she’ll be cool and comfy.
The positives she highlights from being in the fashion industry is the fact that people are finally giving local brands and designers a chance, and she feels that the apparel on the streets right now is strong enough to play on a global stage. That said, she's quick to add that at the same time, “we applaud mediocrity too much, way too much...”