Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana stands out as an acclaimed fashion designer celebrated for her distinctive creations that seamlessly blend African and Western styles, with a keen focus on Basotho culture. As the Head Designer of her eponymous fashion brand, Thabo plays a pivotal role, providing guidance to her team and overseeing the entire creative process. Her journey in the world of fashion began shortly after she graduated in fashion design.

Established in 2009, Thabo Makhetha's women's wear label has swiftly risen to prominence, earning a place among the select few African brands leading the way in luxury fashion. The brand has gained global recognition for its innovative use of authentic Basotho blankets, transforming them into a stunning collection of winter wear jackets and coats.

At the heart of Thabo's designs is a profound connection to her roots. Born in Lesotho and raised in South Africa, her creations serve as a homage to her Basotho heritage. The Basotho blanket, a symbol of status deeply rooted in Lesotho's century-old culture, takes center stage in her globally acclaimed collections.

Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana's contributions to the fashion industry have not gone unnoticed. In 2014, she was recognized as one of the Top 40 under 40 business leaders by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber in South Africa. The same year, she received the Impact Award for Design Excellence. Her starburst coat, nominated for the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2016 by Elle Magazine's then Editor, Emilie Gambade, further solidified her status as a design maven.

The year 2017 brought more accolades, as Thabo was acknowledged among the Top 200 young South Africans. Her commitment to excellence extends beyond borders, as evidenced by her participation in the Mandela Washington Fellowship in 2018. Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana continues to leave an indelible mark, not just as a fashion luminary but also as a leader and influencer in the global design landscape.

Early Life and Education

Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana, born on 21 September 1987 in Lesotho, South Africa, embarked on a remarkable journey from her roots to become a prominent figure in the South African fashion scene. At the age of three, she relocated to South Africa, shaping her life in various cities, including Mahikeng, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, and Port Elizabeth, where she currently resides in Cape Town, Western Cape province. Thabo pursued her education at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, earning a National Diploma in Fashion.

Career and Thabo Makhetha Fashion Label

In 2009, at the young age of 21, Thabo Makhetha founded her eponymous brand, drawing inspiration from her grandmother, a skilled seamstress. Recognizing Thabo's talent, her mother provided her with the first sewing machine, igniting her passion for fashion design. Her creations are deeply influenced by her Basotho heritage, notably featuring the traditional Basotho blanket as a prominent element in her clothing designs. Vibrant African prints and patterns are also distinctive hallmarks of her work.

Thabo Makhetha made a striking runway debut in 2014 at Vancouver Fashion Week in Canada, showcasing the "Blanket of Prestige" collection for Kobo ea Bohali. Her craftsmanship garnered praise for its quality and creativity, setting the stage for a flourishing career. The year 2014 brought further acclaim as she was honored with the Impact Award.

Since then, Thabo has showcased her designs at various international platforms, including South Africa Fashion Week, Lesotho, the United Kingdom, Milan, Johannesburg, and the United States of America. In 2016, her starburst coat earned a nomination for the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa by Elle Magazine's editor.

Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana's contributions have been acknowledged by the Nelson Mandela Chambers, listing her among the Top 40 Under 40 Achievers of 2014. In 2017, she was included in the Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans list. Notably, in 2020, she was featured on Black Parade, a platform curated by Beyoncé, highlighting Africa's top designers. Her work has been showcased in esteemed publications such as Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire.

In 2017, Thabo found herself at the center of a cultural discussion when Louis Vuitton produced a men's collection using a print similar to the Basotho blanket, sparking debates about cultural appropriation.

Adding to her impressive portfolio, in October 2023, Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana collaborated with CTM, South Africa's leading tile retailer, to launch a limited-edition tile collection, commemorating CTM's 40th birthday. This collaboration marked another milestone in Thabo's journey, showcasing her versatility and influence in the world of design.

Awards and Accomplishments

Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana's journey in the world of fashion is studded with accolades, recognizing her exceptional talent and contribution to the industry.

Impact Award for Design Excellence (2014)

In 2014, Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana was honored with the prestigious Impact Award for Design Excellence, a testament to her outstanding creativity and influence in the field of fashion.

Top 40 Under Nelson Mandela Bay Chamber of Commerce 40 Under 40 (2014)

The Nelson Mandela Bay Chamber of Commerce recognized Thabo's leadership and innovation by including her in the esteemed Top 40 Under 40 list in 2014. This acknowledgment highlighted her as one of the young business leaders making a significant impact.

Elle Magazine's Nomination for Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (2016)

Thabo's design prowess came to the forefront when Elle Magazine nominated her Kobo Starburst Coat for the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa in 2016. This nomination not only showcased the aesthetic appeal of her creations but also underlined her influence in shaping the narrative of beauty in design.

Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans (2017)

Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana's inclusion in the Mail & Guardian's prestigious list of Top 200 Young South Africans in 2017 solidified her position as a dynamic and influential figure among the youth, recognized for her achievements and potential.

Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) Alumni (2018)

Thabo's commitment to leadership and excellence was further acknowledged in 2018 when she became an alumna of the Mandela Washington Fellowship. This fellowship is a testament to her dedication to making a positive impact not only in the fashion industry but also in the broader context of leadership and community engagement.