EBOKA IN THE SATURDAY STAR
20 JULY 2018
For most people winter is a time of laying low, and planning rather than doing, but not so for designer Fred Eboka. At Eboka House, the new studio and showroom of this iconic Jozi designer in Sandton, Winter 2018 has been characterised by a frenzy of creativity.
Not only has Eboka launched a brand-new website, but he has been pouring his creative energies into designing a brand-new collection, fuelled by inspiration the team gained on trips to New York, Shanghai, Paris and Barcelona so far this year.
Eboka has been a familiar name on the South African fashion scene for decades; and in a long career that saw him based in Cape Town for years before relocating to Johannesburg, he has dressed many South African legends, from Miriam Makeba to Graca Machel and Adelaide Tambo, as well as numerous first ladies, ambassadors, business personalities and artists across Africa, and the globe.
This year the business has been strengthened by the joining of daughter Tinuke Eboka as Marketing Executive, a role that this marketing graduate and stylist has embraced with characteristic passion.
“The fresh energy and marketing insights that Tinuke has brought on board, has been so enervating, and is helping to set a new course for the Eboka brand,” says father and creative director Fred. A family that has lived and breathed fashion for close on three decades, the Ebokas made the call at the end of 2017 to relocated their store from The Firs in Rosebank to a destination showroom slash studio in Sandton.
“It was an important shift for the brand to move into a space that personifies the luxury, opulence, and artistry that Eboka stands for, where we could truly place the garments we create inside an environment that complements them,” says Tinuke. “Our clients are discerning men and women who expect personal attention, and when they visit Eboka House now, it is like coming to see a friend instead of having to navigate the impersonal surroundings of a mall.”
The double-volume showroom with its imposing curved staircase, sparkling chandelier and baroque furniture makes for a fitting backdrop for the elaborate, textured gowns that take shape under Fred’s hands. Special-occasion gowns, whether bridal, eveningwear or cocktail dresses are what Eboka is best known for, but his stylish business suits, which add a touch of feminine glamour to corporate settings, are becoming more and more popular among his clients.
And it is not only women who can add Eboka to their wardrobe… although he has not actively marketed menswear before, Fred has a steady demand for bespoke suits. While the designer himself favours wearing head-to-toe black for business, his suits come in all shades, always tailored to perfection; using fabrics chosen with as much care as all the fabrics for his couture range. This year he is also launching a range of informal men’s shirts with a distinctly African flavour. “I’ve been experimenting with combining different textures; with the emphasis on comfort – South African men do not have a lot of choice when it comes to upmarket, stylish shirts that also reflect our own heritage, and I want to change that,” he says.
Eboka believes that the current global popularity of African-inspired fashion and the expression of black excellence is more than just a passing hashtag fad. “I welcome the spotlight popular culture, such as the movie Black Panther, has shone on African fashion, and the way we have seen that influence gaining global recognition,” says Fred Eboka. “Africa has been ready for this challenge for a long time and as a designer I welcome the inspiration it has also given me.”
Eboka’s new collection, which will include his trademark opulent couture and ready to wear for women, as well as selected menswear, is currently in production and will be revealed in Spring 2018.