A combination of no-nonsense, hand-tailored garments – understated detailing and ready-to-wear, planet-friendly fabrics as well as local manufacturing – puts Cape Town-based fashion label Jota-Kena firmly on the slow fashion map. Or, as the label’s founders call their ethos: comfortable, conscious, intentional clothing.
‘Our grandfather grew cotton in the Northern Cape and our dad has a background in agriculture – for this reason it is natural for us to consider all the aspects and people involved, from the farm to the finish,’ says Tanith Swinford, cofounder and creative director. ‘We always ensure that our garments are not produced in any way that takes unfair advantage of people or the environment.’
Cofounders, creative directors and designers, sisters Tanith and Keziah Swinford bring their values to a traditionally cut-throat industry. The brand uses environmentally-friendly fabrics made predominantly from wood pulp that, Keziah says, breathe more easily, making them a more comfortable choice. To offset the fact that their fabrics are currently still imported from Europe and India – and to provide employment in the local community – all their clothes are made by hand by seamstresses in Cape Town.
The just-launched AW17 collection draws inspiration from the Ivy League lifestyle. The colours – white, chartreuse, burnt orange and tan, as well as forest green, navy and black – are reminiscent of the ’70s, but the lines are softer, the clothes more flowing and the fit more comfortable. Attention to detail is evident in the embroidered designs, hand-drawn by Keziah (look our for the exclusive denim range). Because everything is hand-sewn, the styles are only available in limited numbers, making them all the more treasured.
The manufacturing philosophy, considered ethos and respect for not just the people employed but the materials used, while still maintaining fashion-forward designs, make Jota-Kena a breath of fresh fashion air.
Photography: Danielle Klopper
Styling: Tanith Swinford
Hair and makeup: Nicola Loots
Models: Tana Hendrikse, Kesha-Leigh Bantom and Sabine Erbe