Local fashion designer joins forces with exclusive clothing brand

2007-11-14 00:00

FOR those who thought that Nomakanjani had closed its doors forever, think again. The “black fashion house” has reinvented itself and relocated to the Liberty Midlands Mall under a new name, NKJ. After enjoying a cult following for his colloquial designs, owner and designer Jody Butler is now looking to capture a wider audience.

“Nomakanjani was popular among the black community and that was the aim,” says Butler, as he shows me around the new spot at the mall. “The word itself means ‘no matter what', because I said to myself that this venture would be a success. No matter what.”

Butler is now looking to incorporate other races into the NKJ culture as the original name was not easily recognised by everyone.

“It's important that other races don't feel alienated. So I changed the name to make it more ‘user-friendly'.” The new outlet has joined forces with adidas Originals, which is a trendy fashion label by the performance-wear powerhouse. Going with the adidas range is certainly a conscious move towards trendy fashion and it includes various limited- edition items, such as the iconic Muhammad Ali line, of which there are limited numbers in South Africa.

“We realise that people are more interested in buying exclusive items nowadays,” Butler said. Each Originals item has a story behind it; such as the Porsche takkies that are made from the same fabrics found in Porsche sports cars and various Materials of The World outfits, which are made specifically from indigenous fabrics from countries like England, Canada and Japan.

The shop still houses popular NKJ designs such as jeans and shirts and Butler has started to sponsor local celebrities to raise the profile of the NKJ brand. One of the first to benefit was Dyke, from the Survivor Malaysia series.

“Having well-known people on board obviously helps us get exposure and we are constantly on the lookout for personalities who we can kit out,” says Butler. He is quick to point out that it has not been an easy road for him. He studied computer engineering and business management at Varsity College and dabbled in advertising with his brothers, before taking the plunge with Nomakanjani.

“Nothing can prepare you for the pressures of running your own business and being accountable for everything. Luckily I have an excellent support base in my family and my girlfriend Adele who have stood by me.”

Nomakanjani was created in a bid to “educate other races about the way black people do and see things,” says Butler

“I am fascinated by the culture of African people and I was keen to translate that passion into art.”

Butler, who is fluent in Zulu, says that he has always been fashion conscious. “From a young age, I mixed colours and sketched clothing.”

At 27, Butler has plans to expand, but for now he wants to establish NKJ as a premier label in local fashion circles.

The new NKJ outlet is located at the Liberty Midlands Mall, opposite American Swiss. Although the sign on the door says adidas Originals, NKJ is inside.

For more details, go to www.nomakanjani.com or visit www.adidasoriginals.co.za

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