DT: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? And some highlights in your career? Please name drop (laughs).
TM: I am a fashion designer & cultural polyglot. My career in the fashion industry spans 15 years, and 3 continents. I started out working under Belgian designer Walter van Beirendonck, then founded The Fashion Deli, an internationally acclaimed concept store in Cape Town, I then launched an eponymous brand that sold in Fred Siegal in LA and South Africa’s leading department store, and recently launched a New York-based streetwear brand called Oketša.
Oketša is a streetwear brand that was born in South Africa and bred in New York. It is a visual expression of the African diaspora, its rich diverse culture and unique iconography, combining traditional design with modern attributes. While an African spirit forms the core of the brand, Oketša embodies all that is local and global about Africa, with a brand identity that strives to shape the future of fashion worldwide. Oketša’s mission is to create a cultural identity, consciousness and style movement that resonates with a global audience and has potential for scale.
DT: Why is it important to have diversity in the beauty and fashion industries?
TM: Consumers come in all colors, shapes, sizes & genders/orientations. It is imperative for fashion and beauty brands to reflect this diversity not only from a moral perspective but also for the brands’ bottom lines. When consumers do not see themselves represented, they are not likely to buy from or support said brands.
DT: Have you seen shifts in the last decade?
TM: Absolutely! Virgil Abloh at the helm of Louis Vuitton, Rihanna‘s ground-breaking FENTY & FENTY MAISON partnership with LMVH, Winnie Harlow is one of the most sought-after cover models, Valentina Sampaio is the world’s first transsexual cover model. these are just some of the many examples of how far we’ve come in the past decade.
DT: In a perfect world, what would be an ideal evolution in the industries of beauty and fashion?
TM: The acceptance of our NATURAL bodies as they are without the pressure of “looking” a certain way or “weighing” a certain amount to be considered beautiful or desirable. We’re ALL BEAUTIFUL in our own unique ways. Let’s accept and appreciate each other’s uniqueness!
DT: Do you realize that your presence in the industry, inspires many people around the world?
TM: I HOPE so! My intention as a designer has ALWAYS been to a be a cultural bridge. My new brand is a great example of this as I see myself not only as an artist but also a global cultural polyglot, who takes into account what the cultural values of my customers are, and to respond to that community in thoughtful and meaningful ways. When I founded Oketša my vision was to design streetwear that reflects a world that is inspiring to me and that represents all of us. Oketša means to increase, grow or prosper in my native language of Sepedi – one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. I believe that the best version of us is when we are all connected: consumers, community, and culture – in a collective space where we can grow and prosper together. As a cultural community, we seek to prove that our diversity is NOT what makes us weak but makes us stronger and more prosperous.
DT: What advice would you give your younger self?
TM: “You are PERFECT just as you are.”
DT: Are you living your purpose?
TM: 100% EVERYDAY!!!!
DT: Finish this sentence, “I am grateful for…”
TM: “…ALL the amazing people who have and continue to support me and my entrepreneurial creative/entrepreneurial Journey.”
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