How to become a designer in Namibia
Sometimes the thing that we should be doing is right in front of us. Sometimes it’s the thing that we’ve been doing since we were young. Matheus Erastus never imagined he’d end up as a fashion designer when he was young. For him, fashion was something he indulged in after soccer practice, by hand or secretly on his mother’s sewing machine. It was something he enjoyed, but not something he could see himself earning a living doing.
And yet, today Matheus is a successful young Namibian designer – his latest triumph is his participation in the Miss Grand Namibia fashion show as designer and judge. MYD Art found out about being a designer in Namibia and what his advice is to wannabe designers.
An early interest
While Matheus was at school, all his friends came to him to design their matric farewell dresses. And yet at that point he still didn’t see it as a viable career. Instead after school he started studying HR, only to realize that fashion design was something he could not do as a vocation but enjoy.
Getting out there
There was no big strategy in place for Matheas to get word out about his clothes. Instead the magic of word of mouth spread from client to potential client. Clients posted about his clothes on their social media, tagging him, even though he is too busy to do much there himself. Luckily, a friend of his included his designs on a blog, further spreading the word.
The Namibian fashion industry
To Matheus, the Namibian fashion industry still has space to grow. It’s crazy, he says. There are difficult clients and challenging times. But Matheus sees the tide changing, where more and more locals who want to wear designer garments made in Namibia.
Advice to wannabe designers
The client is always, ALWAYS, right.As a designer, you have to talk to clients; you have so much to do with them, because they bring bread on your table. It’s about knowing yourself: “You know you don’t like working with people, so you need to learn how to take it all.” One client may be very easy, the next very difficult. “There are times where you lose it, but when you look back you realize that you were wrong; they’re the person that pays my rent. You have to learn to keep calm.”
Best client so far
Working with celebrities, one realises that they are different from the person you see on TV or in the media. You can get some very cool clients and some very dramatic ones, though.
The biggest challenge in the Art industry
“Getting art to be taken seriously. People don’t think you can do art as a career. It needs a change in beliefs, and that will only come from the top, from the leaders in the country.”
Most difficult thing about being a fashion designer
“Working with people.”
“Chakirra Claasen, Nikola Conradie, Alexander McQueen, Versace”
Summary of style:
“Classic, sophisticated, ready to go, modern yet simple, none of that whole crazy, over the top elements. Garments that you can buy straight from the rack and wear to work.”
Fashion designer to watch out for:
“A friend of mine, Pewameta, she is really good.”
Mattheus is a judge for the Miss Grande Namibia Pageant, which is to take place on 2 July.