ANDILE SIGASANA, 47, was born in Gugulethu, Cape Town, the son of a librarian and a switchboard operator. He attended high schools in Nyanga and Langa but, dissatisfied with his Matric results, registered at a different school in Khayelitsha and obtained a university pass. This led to a degree in personnel management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, followed by a year’s course at UCT’s Graduate School of Business. Andile is married to Lulama, a nutrition manager for a Cape Town NGO, and has three sons. Here, he talks of his hopes and plans for his clothing line, born out of unemployment with the help of his family…
Clothing entrepreneur Andile, who took fashion guidance from his sons | Photo: Tonya Hester

‘I came out of business school but couldn’t get a job. I was struggling and sat brainstorming with my boys and my wife to see what we could do to get an income. I’m passionate about clothing and fashion, I like to dress smartly myself, and I thought, why don’t I start a brand? My wife came up with the name Born Free Since 1994, which of course is the year South Africa became a non-racial democracy. To me, this was a gentle reminder of how fortunate today’s South African youth are to have so many possibilities in life. I really hope it motivates them to use their potential.

My sons gave me guidance as to what styles to use – upmarket street fashion, the Justin Bieber look. I wanted a heritage brand with everything that’s good in South Africa behind it. The patent for the name came through just after Christmas – a late present! I’ve designed dresses, hoodies, t-shirts, caps and vests. I get them made up nearby, in Maitland. I was fortunate to be selected by the Cape Craft Design Institute to sell them at the Langa Summer Market, which was organised by the City of Cape Town. The tourists loved the brand name and I sold double what the other vendors sold.

Born Free recently expanded to include a newborn range called Primi Passi (meaning ‘first steps’ in Italian). We’re in talks at the moment about making them available from one of South Africa’s big retail stores. I pray about this work all the time, and I so hope it’s going to grow into something worthwhile!’

Born Free’s Primi Passi range

Care to view Andile’s clothes? Contact him on +27 81 761 1533

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