Designers behind SA Olympic team outfits say they worked according to the brief after social media uproar

The South African Olympics team. Picture: Twitter/@TeamSA2020.

The South African Olympics team. Picture: Twitter/@TeamSA2020.

Published Jul 28, 2021


South Africa was left divided this past weekend when they saw the Olympic team’s apparel. While some seem to like the designs, others were not impressed.

The gear was designed by four designers from the Durban Fashion Fair mentorship programme. Nompumelelo Mjadu, Sipho Lushaba, Mbali Zulu and Sandile Sikhakhane worked with Mr Price to create the apparel the SA Olympics team wore at the opening ceremony in Tokyo last Friday.

Media personality Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung was among those who were not impressed by the outfits.

“Who woke up and decided nansi ingonyama yakithi baba (singing a verse from The Lion King). Yazi basigqokisa ... yho angi (they made us wear ... I’m not understanding). Swaziland, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, were beautiful in their authentic cultural outfits. Thina sa decider ukuya e Zuurbekom (we decided to go to Zuurbekom), like why? Why do we always get it wrong? Tell me what you think, guys? Because I was not impressed,” said the Idols judge.

The designers confirmed that they worked according to the brief.

Speaking to Cape Talk, Lushaba said that people reacted the way they did because they didn’t know the inspiration behind the gear.

He said they wanted something that would represent the whole of South Africa, that’s why they went for the animal print and the protea, instead of choosing one culture.

“We were briefed about what they wanted and what they would love to wear. From there, we came with making a print of our own inspired by the Mandela dream.

“From there, we took the element of the Mandela shirt, which is the print, then we came up with the Big Five.

“We took one of the animals, the leopard, and incorporated that with the zebra print, and we took the protea to incorporate it with the athlete’s dream,” said Lushaba.

He added that they were not responsible for the shoes, only the garments. The shoes were designed by Veldskoen.

Here are are more reactions to the SA Olympics Opening Ceremony outfit:

— Money Ma$e (@CFC_Arianna) July 23, 2021