Considered a pioneer of South African design, David Tlale’s eponymous label is known for its convention-defying drama, his ready-to-wear and couture pieces serving as flamboyant interpretations of contemporary staples. The namesake brand launched in 2003, and by 2009, its designer was awarded the Fashion Designer of the Year award at the Africa Fashion Awards in Johannesburg; over the years, he’s built a reputation for himself as one of South Africa’s most reputable players, becoming a household name whose work has influenced a new generation of up and coming talent
After making his debut at South African Fashion Week in 2002, Tlale was awarded the coveted Elle New Talent Award, and in 2007 presented at Paris Fashion Week. There he showed off range boasting expert craftsmanship and attention to detail, his array of bold yet elegant designs challenging global perceptions of African luxury. The designer was also the first of his South African contemporaries to showcase solo at New York Fashion Week in September 2012.
Thanks to a bold aesthetic that challenges traditional design clichés and an unpredictable use of colors and texture, Tlale’s designs impart an unapologetic self-expression that tell a rich story of African innovation. A proud supporter of local design talent, Tlale is also adamant that African designers express their authentic selves on the runways: It’s not my vision to compete with Dolce & Gabbana or Armani,” he told online magazine Kings & Queens, “they are doing them and we are coming with a new story.” He’s also made it a firm priority to help nurture the new generation of South African design talent and in 2017 launched a televised search for the “next big thing” called The Intern By David Tlale.
- ARISE Africa Fashion Awards, Fashion Designer of the Year, 2009
- Elle New Talent Award, Winner, 2003