The traditionalist: Ole Ledimo of House of Ole

2012-03-23 15:09

Ledimo is a borderline conservative.

He once wore a pair of harem pants as part of a suit to show his edgy side, but his conservative side can be seen in the austere décor of his Rivonia Boulevard studio, which has a row of immaculately hung black, grey, brown and navy suits. This comes as no surprise since the House of Ole specialises in the Savile Row-type of classic-cut suits.
“Thank goodness for one of our in-house fashion designers, Molebogeng Lehata, who introduces some chic and elegant elements in our garments to make them look so stylish. If it was up to me, everything would just look classic,” he says.

Ledimo fell into menswear designing in 2000 in his hometown of Bloemfontein.

“A friend’s brother asked me to help him make a suit to wear to a wedding. At that time, I was an information technology student at the University of the Free State, but I loved dressing up. I knew I wanted to help, but I just didn’t know how,” he says.

He ended up sketching designs whenever he could. He dabbled in modelling, and did a stint at one of Bloemfontein’s fashion houses as a sales consultant and learnt more about the production process.

After graduation, he decided to leave the sleepy town to start his own business in Joburg.

Ledimo started by exhibiting his garments on the trade floors of SA Fashion Week and gradually worked his way up to the main ramps with a full collection.

While launching his label, Ledimo also studied tailoring at the London School of the Arts, where he developed a love for classic suits.

“London is very rich when it comes to tailoring. I spent time on Savile Row, learning how they handle everything. I fell completely in love with the sharp tailoring and knew this was what I want the House of Ole to be known for,” he says.

Ledimo is worried about the dearth of menswear designers in the country.

“Menswear is very tricky. You can’t do many gimmicks. You always have to strive to be simple, which is not an easy task. If you’re too simple, you become boring, but if you go OTT, many men find it hard to relate to your product.”

He also believes the menswear industry is steadily growing, but there’s a need for more attention on it.
“When people talk about fashion, they talk about womenswear. Men’s fashion is yet to be celebrated the way it should be. We still need to break that stereotype that women are the only ones who consume fashion.”

The father of three says some of the challenges he faces include a lack of resources, such as locally produced fabrics.

“Fashion is evolving and you constantly see all these interesting things international designers are doing because of improved technology. It’s a pity that it’s expensive to bring that technology to South Africa,” says Ledimo.

Spring/Summer Collection:
This time around, Ledimo says his collection will have 3D elements, along with some lemon shades and linen.

“I’ve never used linen on a suit because I don’t like the fabric. Somehow, Molebogeng managed to twist my arm.”

» Catch the House of Ole show next Sunday at 9.30pm

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