TALKING TO FRED EBOKA
23 JUNE 2018
A new home, a new website and a new approach. How would you describe Eboka Couture in 2018?
In the age of homogenous fast fashion, I would say Eboka Couture’s commitment to authentic and innovative African design makes the brand stand out more than ever.
Eboka couture is known to be extremely detailed and embellished, which adds to the luxury feel. What is your design philosophy around what turns a garment into pure luxury?
At Eboka we acknowledge that premium material and impeccable craftsmanship is at the heart of every luxurious product. It starts with our textiles, which are sourced from around the world, and then we apply 25 years’ worth of experience in couture design to create the unique garments we are known for today.
Are you inspired by collections shows in Milan, Paris, New York? To what extent do you keep an eye on international trends? Do you have an international designer you follow particularly?
I believe it is important to be highly cognizant of international trends and designers but one must be careful not being too influenced but what we see abroad. Too often today, I see young African designers whose work are derivative of the latest designs by the big international names… social media shows the looks from the catwalks of Milan, Paris and New York immediately and in such detail, that it is deceptively easy to plagia catwalks works. Authenticity is extremely important to me and our brand.
You have created beautiful garments for women for 25 years. How have South African women changed in terms of their fashion consumption over this time?
My clients' preferences have changed from wanting heavily ethnic-inspired pieces to more contemporary design but in recent times I’m seeing a re-emergence of appreciation for African design.
How would you describe the SA couture client today? Does she want to wear what’s big in Europe?
My clients are a lot more individualistic in dressing, they aren’t trying to look like everyone else, which is why they come to me.
What is your take on the rising popularity of African influences in fashion – cultural appropriation or a true sign of things changing?
I believe it’s a trend that comes and goes. In South Africa, in the ‘90s African-inspired pieces were all the rage, however in the 2000s that preference swung towards more European design. It has a lot to do with the social and political climate of the time; remember that in the ‘90s there was all the excitement about the new democracy, so everyone was eager to finally embrace and represent their heritage. Similarly, at this point in time, the global excitement around Black Panther – which is really the first-ever black blockbuster – signals a new wave of interest in the African aesthetic due to the wonderful job the creators did in designing the wardrobe to incorporate so many African influences. Just looking at how celebrities at the premieres interpreted the Wakanda look was inspiring, and I expect this trend to continue for a while.
Eboka is a family business, and your daughter, Tinuke, recently came on board as a marketing executive. What are you most excited about regarding this decision?
I am bringing in new energy and vibrancy through the appointment of my daughter. She has global marketing and fashion exposure which I believe will take the brand to a spectacular level.
If you were a young designer starting out in SA today, what would you focus on?
My strategy would simply be to focus on creating quality clothing and providing the very best service for my clients. A designer is nothing without his loyal client base. I would extend my working hours from 8 to 12 hours a day to get more done!