Amanda Laird Cherry is one of South Africa’s most established fashion designers and one who has fused the development of her clothes with that of the country.
The acclaim she has received is as universal as it gets in South African fashion, with publications as varied as Y-Mag and Time Magazine shouting her praises. Dion Chang, South Africa’s patron saint of fashion, regularly buys her clothes straight off the ramp, while hip young urban kids wish they could. And even the tailors and seamstresses who populate Durban’s streets and its secluded alleys, whose designs have had so much impact on her, re-reflect those designs in a perfect circle of fashion.
Amanda Laird Cherry has had her products in Libertys of London. They bought her Nguni shoes, some Ishwe shwe garments and napery, as well as vlisco dutch wax print quilts and throws and antique linen cushions. She got great coverage with her label when it was displayed in the Liberty windows, that front on Regent Street, for a few weeks.
Amandas’products have been featured in the following publications overseas: TIME magazine, Wallpaper (twice), British Vogue, Trace New York, a Norwegian Sunday Paper and a Swedish magazine. The products from Libertys have been featured in various magazines and websites including WGSN.
She was the Design Director for the surf label Instinct for 8 years, and focused on designing for their Instinct Sportswear Export. 65% of their goods went to the USA, the balance was spread amongst Canada, Britain, France, Holland, Germany, Scandinavia, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Australia and Japan.
Amanda is one of a small handful of South African designers who has fused the development of her clothes with that of the country. Her collections over the past decade have presented a different kind of reconciliation process, one which unites our intersecting histories into a collective present which we have little choice but to share. On the ramp, she is both an artist and a story-teller, telling her own personal stories with cloth and thread in much the same way that cultures have done all over the world even before the construction of the first needle. And, although locally informed, her cloth-based narratives nonetheless manage to consistently wow the local and international fashion press. It’s the old story of using specifics to achieve universality.
Talking about the way in which clothes affects us, Amanda thinks that some kind of emotional attachment to them is inevitable. And with this comes some kind of political thought process that crosses through ours minds when we wear them. “And when I say political, I don’t mean party politics. I mean processing thoughts about what the country’s been through, and where you stand in it, and where we all stand.”
Those who think of clothing exclusively in terms of this (or next) season’s fashion are missing the point a little. The fabrics and the cuts we wear always tell us about our society. She points out that the A-line skirt, for example, doesn’t sell anywhere else in the world but it sells in South Africa perpetually. “And why? What does it mean? What does it embrace? Does it have 1820 settler or missionary connotations, or does it have an attachment to a body shape that is very South African?”
Of contemporary South African fashion which has come so far in such a short space of time, Amanda thinks that we can now compete internationally on an aesthetic level, “but not necessarily on quality and delivery”. And when will we be able to compete on those levels? “In a while,” she says reticently. “But I also think that at this stage there are such great opportunities to create and sell within our own markets.”
Amanda has been working with various crafters including Sinakathemba and the Hillrest Aids centre over the past few years on various projects including appliqué, handstitching, beading and crochet. Constantly trying to find different garments that can utilise their skills. This benefits families infected and affected by Hiv Aids.
WHERE TO BUY AMANDA’S CLOTHES
You can buy Amanda’s clothes at The Space stores of which she is a part owner. (Find The Space at Rosebank in (Johannesburg), at Menlyn Park in (Pretoria), at Cavendish in (Cape Town), at Florida Road in (Durban)and at Gateway in (Durban). She is also stocked in Soho (Durban) and India Jane (Cape Town) as well as in Big Blue stores in Gauteng and Cape Town.
Amanda’s commercial output is diffused through three different labels: Amanda Laird Cherry – which includes her ladies wear, shoes and private commissions; ALC – ready to wear men’s clothes; and Cubaverra – the brand that she designs for Big Blue, which includes both menswear and ladies wear.
FASHION SHOWS AND AWARDS
Amanda has participated in SA Fashion Weeks for over ten years. She has also shown at many other fashion events including the Durban Designer collection which she won on two occasions. She has been a finalist in the Fair Lady Catherine Awards twice as an individual designer and as a retailer for the Space Store which we won.
On the ramp, she is both an artist and a story-teller, telling her own personal stories with cloth and thread in much the same way that cultures have done all over the world even before the construction of the first needle.
She is now based in New York City.
Despite it’s impressive size and scores of employees, the factory is just the studio space for ALC. Smaller runs or complicated items are done in house, including the innovative new ALC Menswear range designed by Brendan Sturrock. ALC then outsources to other local CMT factories. All ALC shoes, bags and belts are made through local factories and crafters. The deserved success of ALC has led to sustaining the livelihoods of so many South Africans and their families, and their loving work can be seen in every detail of the beautiful ALC ranges that grace the Space stores.
The studio and factories are based in the city of Durban, South Africa.
Telephone: +27 31 312 2575 / +27 86 011 0339
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