BD: Please tell us about your upbringing?
SV: I was born and raised in Port Elizabeth. I went to Woolhope high school where I finished my matric. I grew up very close with my grandmother. She is the one who loved sewing, and I grew up helping her make garments. Little did I know I with her help and motivation was laying the foundation to my career.
BD: What kind of a family and neighborhood did you grow up in?
SV: I was raised by a single mother, and the last born of two boys. I grew up in a middle class family. I did not always have what I wanted, but my mother always took care of my needs. I had friends who came from families where they could afford the latest gadgets or hairstyle. I had to learn that like fingers, families are different, yet are unique and special non the less.
BD: How did the interest in fashion start?
SV: I’ve always loved art and clothes but I’ve never considered myself fashionable. I just knew I was different because I would always buy clothes with the intention of cutting them up or changing something somewhere. As I finished high school I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do. I then studied journalism at Varsity College. I didn’t finish it because I wasn’t really into it and so I decided to take a gap year and figure out what I wanted to do. That’s when I thought how about I could combine my love for art with my love of fashion and just do both. I then applied at Damelin for the next year. That is where my journey as a fashion designer started. I graduated 2012 and thought to myself, I do not want to look for a job so I started my own business and brand, VIO DESIGNS.
SV: With reference to my family and the neighborhood I grew up in, I always knew that jobs did not come easily. The idea of growing someone else’s empire, also did not sit well with me. With this knowledge, I knew I wanted to be my own boss. I started posting my designs on various social media platforms and people liked them and began asking me to make stuff for them. That was validation that I was actually good at what I do and people really appreciated my work and kept on coming back. I made friends in the business and ended up taking part in local fashion shows and events such as the annual Sophisticate fashion extravaganza where I showcase my range every year. I’ve taken part in a lot of shows and events. I enjoy it because I meet a lot of people and I’ve learnt a lot about myself through the experience, for example that I can work under pressure and that I can handle all types of people.
BD: What did your parents say when you told them what you wanted to be?
SV: I have been blessed with a very understanding Mother. She has always allowed me to choose my career choice. This was accepted easily by her especially due to the fact that she is also a fashion lover. She trusts me, she has always taught me to not only do what I want to or have to do, but to excel in it.
BD: What is the fashion industry like in Port Elizabeth?
SV: Port Elizabeth has improved tremendously when it comes to fashion and the arts altogether. They are now taking it more seriously, we have the Bay fashion Sunday, the sophisticate fashion extravaganza, etc. which are great platforms for designers, models photographers and everyone in the arts and beauty industry.
BD: Do you only design for women?
SV: No, I don’t only design for women. I also design for kids. Two years ago, I had my son. From then on, I developed an interest in kid’s clothing. I also loved dressing my son up in clothes that matched mine. I would have lots of other moms having an interest in such outfits. I saw this gap as an opportunity to grow my brand.
BD: What kind of a woman do you have in mind when working on an item of clothing?
SV: I design for women, all shapes and sizes. I love the women figure and would wish everyone embraces their bodies and started appreciating themselves as they are.
SV: What makes my clothes stand out from other clothes is the fact that I always add a piece of myself to every garment I make. I make ready to wear items; Items that can be worn straight from my rails to the office, a party, a braai or even a wedding. I am also all about comfort clothing. When you wear an item of mine, you should not have to worry about those places you would rather hide.
BD: What are you trying to communicate through your clothes?
SV: It is how I express myself. I’m not shy yet I’m not loud. I may not be loud, but I do make a statement. This is how my clothes are, or how I strive for my clothes to be; not conspicuous, but still make a statement.
BD: What do you love most about fashion?
SV: I love fashion because I get to express myself through my designs. I am not an “in your face” type of a person, however, when I enter a room, you will notice me and my outfit. In my humble opinion, fashion is not necessarily about looking good as much as it is about feeling good. As the saying goes; when you look good, you feel good!”
BD: What would you say to a young black boy or girl out there, who aspires to become a fashion designer?
SV: What I would say to young people who want to be in the fashion industry is that one should believe in themselves, dare to be different and embrace that. Work hard and be as original as possible, stay focused as you will lose yourself along the way but that’s also a part of learning about yourself and what works for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, love what you do and always stay true to yourself.
BD: Who inspires you?
SV: I can’t say there is someone specifically who inspires me. I literally go with what my client is looking for and see where it will take me. I can, however tell you that I love the 50’s and 70’s fashion. I always try to draw inspiration from that era when creating my range and just jazz it up with modern styles but still keeping the retro feel and look.
BD: Is fashion your sole interest?
SV: For now, yes. Fashion is my life I don’t think there’s anything else that I’m good at than fashion and being creative through clothing. I am however privileged in that fashion is a broad subject, and I am willing and looking forward to explore all its avenues.
BD: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
SV: I see myself opening up my own boutique which will cater for women and kid’s .which will also stock up and coming designers who need a platform to grow as young entrepreneurs.
BD: What has being a fashion designer taught you?
SV: I always thought of myself as someone who takes their own time when working, especially on items fashion related, I have now learnt that I am able to work under pressure. In fact, I thrive under it.
BD: How has the public received your clothing?
SV: Fashion in South Africa is actually at a different place than it used to be. We see a lot of new designers every time which is good it means the industry is growing and we are now being recognised and appreciated. And South Africans are also supporting their own especially they young unknown designers.