Thami Kwazi
Lifestyle Print Editor
2 minute read
11 Jun 2021
4:16 pm

Pilchards and Ultra Mel to take over the Durban July red carpet

Thami Kwazi

It's not everyone's taste, but this young designer's Lucky Star and Ultramel creation looks good enough to get connoisseurs drooling.

Sthembele Gwacela's creation of Lucky Star and Ultra Mel packaging.

In the build-up to one of the most anticipated events of the year, the Vodacom Durban July on 29 July 2021, the event held an annual fashion competition for students to flex their creative chops on 7 June 2021 at Greyville Racecourse with the theme of Birds of a Feather.

Fezile Fashion Skills Academy final-year design student Sthembele Gwacela, 24, created a dress made from Pilchard Lucky Star and Danone Ultra Mel packaging and certainly was one of the most interesting entries.

It was inspired by her personal experience of township fashion and cultural trends. The entrant’s food-themed dress is a play on the Izikhothane culture made popular by township youth who wear expensive clothes and walk around with cartons of Ultra Mel custard, dancing and randomly spilling custard on the street, also burning stacks of money just for fun.

Describing her concept, Sthembele said she was playing around with the metaphoric meaning of the culture and incorporated the custard brand as part of the “uniform”.

She describes making the outfit as challenging.

“It was my first time working with PVC. The Fezile team are truly a breath of fresh air when it comes to fashion. I am really excited to push myself creatively. I strive for creative genius to be associated with my name in the industry, she says.

She’s a student at the academy founded by  CEO Fezile Mdletshe with branches in Durban and KwaMashu in KwaZulu-Natal and Braamfontein in Johannesburg.

With her talking point designs, Sthembele is a shoe-in for the top 10 finalists which will be announced on 29 July.

Final year student Sthembele Gwacela at the Fezile Fashion Skills Academy.

The most popular skothane is Soweto celebrity, singer and dancer Material Don Dada (Tshepo Pitso), a self-proclaimed leader of the township cult movement.



Tshepo and his crew were featured in Mzansi Magic reality show Material Culturewhich explored their money-burning exploits and love of expensive Italian clothing brands.

Pilchards are a common staple food in the black South African home due to socio-economic factors.

Sthembele’s design is what she sees as a truly South African story with contradicting facets. One side is expensive clothing and the other one of the cheapest staples.

READ NEXT: Latest Vodacom Durban July log