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African Designer: On The Plus Size Style

Self-taught designer Duduzile Ngubane started Du Confidence out of the boot of her car to design clothes that cater to different body types. Her determination and entrepreneurial mindset led her to her own business.

Du Confidence Designs is a brand that creates plus size and ready-to-wear African print clothing and accessories for women.

Her inspiration came from other women and the struggles she had finding designer clothes. Ngubane believes that every woman should have access to something stylish.

“Being a plus size women myself I struggled to get clothes that fit well, I experienced body shaming due to wearing clothes that didn’t accommodate my body, so I decided to start a brand that will only focus on plus size women,” says Ngubane

The business is currently based in the uShaka Marine World in KwaZulu Natal (KZN).

 “We put the best of African fashion on the runway and showcase the beauty of African fabric and how it can be translated to a modern fashion style,” says Ngubane.

“One of the biggest trends to enter the scene is the fascinating African printsinspired by Kente clothes, bark cloths, mud cloths and Kitenge cloths of the African Diaspora.

“The cool thing about this trend is that while it may be very ethnic, the cuts and silhouettes are super modern and very accessible,” (Savre et al., 2020)

“We want to be different from other retail stores by using the authentic African print. We want people to be equipped so they can stand on their own. It’s about making a difference to the lives of South Africans, especially the young ones who don’t have a great idea of African culture.”

Ngubane’s Love for African design was sparked while studying a design course during her time at Howard College in KZN where she was studying towards a qualification in African music and drama. While completing her studies, she worked as a wardrobe assistant for an African music production where she was responsible for dressing and accessorising performers. This reinforced her passion for arts and crafts.

Du Confidence has dressed high profile celebrities like Lebohang Mashile (actress and poet) and actress Ayanda Borotho (actress and education ambassador) 

Ngubane wanted to take her business to the next level, so she applied to the SAB Foundation Tholoana programme. This enterprise development programme helped her accomplish her business goals: “I didn’t know much about running a business, so being in the programme has helped me grow a lot.”

The Tholoana programme invests in entrepreneurs who show passion and commitment to growing the South African economy. The business support programme offers mentorship, business development workshops, and seed funding. It also provides opportunities for women, persons with disabilities and youth in rural areas.

“With my brand I have gotten the sense of belonging and pride in being an African woman. As soon as someone puts on my design, they feel confident because it is made with care.

“My clothes are perfectly tailored to showcase the beauty of African woman, I design each item according to my customer’s needs, in hopes to making them feel good and confident,” says Ngubane.

Ngubane wants to expand her manufacturing operations to create an institution that develops skills so budding entrepreneurs can open their businesses using the skills they have learned.

Due to an increased demand in their designs, Du Confidence is in the process of opening a manufacturing shop and employing more people.

You can find Du Confidence at uShaka Village Walk in Durban and see some of their designs on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/du_confidencedesigns/ 

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