It seems like every day now The Folklore team is constantly scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest in search of amazing style inspiration. From Japan to Paris, Brooklyn to Nairobi, we're always on the lookout for stylish people who truly embody the minimal, yet quirky aesthetic of The Folklore. Over the past few months, while meeting with designers from South Africa, we got a chance to get to know some of the people who inspire our brilliant selection of designers and have been keeping an eye out on them ever since.
From visual artist Tony Gum, who's a mega fan of Cape Town-based TF brand Nicholas Coutts, to Cultural Style Ambassador Kwena Baloyi, a loyal customer of Johannesburg-based TF brand, MmusoMaxwell, it appears South Africa has nurtured a community of creative thinkers and style savants. Most notably, South African women have taken the internet and globe by storm with their style. These style influencers are known for pairing minimal local designs with vibrant pieces from their South African heritage. This mix of contemporary and traditional design, in addition to their bold beauty and hair statements, has made South Africa's female style influencers some of the most noteworthy and followed in the world.
What really seems to make these style influencers stick out from the crowd is their support of local South African designers, many of which the world has yet to recognize. In addition to popular brands Nicholas Coutts and MmusoMaxwell, The Folklore brands Selfi, MaXhosa, Pichulik, Simon and Mary, Thalia Strates, W35T, and WAIF, are important fashion staples that for years have elevated the already impressive wardrobes of each of these women.
Here are 10 South African fashion influencers who inspire us every day that you need to know:
Keneilwe Nei is a minimalist in every sense of the word. As an interior designer, she is constantly inspired by the industrial spaces that surround her in Johannesburg. Along with her design partner Shelley Mokoena, Keneilwe stages gorgeous photoshoots showing off a mixture of avant-garde separates against a backdrop of modern architecture and South Africa's rural landscapes.
Interior designer and style savant Shelley Mokoena embodies many of the same minimalist qualities as her design partner, Keneilwe Nei. She experiments with shapes and structures while maintaining a relatively muted color palette. Her attention to detail and eye for beauty has helped her produce beautiful editorial-style images that are widely shared around the web.
Manthe Ribane style is all about athleisure and drama. At times the performance artist will deliver a high-end sporty look comprised of pieces from local streetwear brands, while other times, she rocks a voluminous tulle gown or structured two-piece MmusoMaxwell set. Her ability to effortlessly transition from one style medium to another has served her well in her career as an artistic director who's various projects include the contrasting same elements.
Rharha Nembhard truly lives by her motto: "No limits. No boundaries. No borders." Her Instagram page reads like an unfiltered look into her love for style, art, African people, and her heritage. The artist also reflects these things through her gorgeous hair and beauty styles, and quirky feminine aesthetic. Her love for design even led to an exclusive sold-out collaboration with TF brand Selfi.
Tony Gum is one artist whose style competes for attention against her strikingly beautiful artwork. This could possibly be because her personal style is largely reflected in her work. The self-portraits Tony creates are very much grounded in the clothes she appears in, which in some cases is traditional Xhosa wear, while in other instances, is a bit more contemporary.
Kwena Baloyi is a self-described cultural influencer. Through social media and other mediums, she expresses her love for global culture through brilliant visions of the environment, art, cuisine, and of course—fashion. This globetrotter may travel around the world, but her heritage is still proudly displayed in every look she wears and in every project she works on.
Lulma Wolf's wardrobe is truly a work of art. Her job as a self-described "Art dealer for the sensitive thug" has made her extremely conscious of colors and shapes, proportions and texture. She is truly a walking talking work of art. What makes her style even more special is the backdrops she discovers through her travels, which always manages to match her look.
If you're looking for glamorous, look no further than style influencer, Nandipha Mqoco. From head to toe, her makeup to her shoes, Nandipha projects a stylish feminine aura that leaves onlookers captivated. The allure of her style is just as much about her beauty statements than it is her actual wardrobe. She loves to experiment with different hairstyles and lipsticks, and effortlessly throws on an outfit to match.
Nabilah Kariem Peck is a jack-of-all-trades. Not only is she a stylist but she's a talented designer who is her own best canvas. Much of her personal style focuses on comfort and color. She is often seen in long flowy maxi dresses or skirts and oversized jackets and sneakers. The stylist and designer also loves to play with prints and embellishments, and knows how to dress them up or down.
The best way to describe jewelry student and photographer Amy Scheepers style is understated. Scrolling through her highly curated Instagram feed, users can witness her affinity for basics like denim jackets, knitted sweaters, and beautiful leather crossbody bags (like the one she sports from Cape Town-based TF brand Thalia Strates). Although her style leans towards traditional wardrobe staples, the way she styles the pieces gives her an illustrious appeal.