Fashion Industry

Erica de Greef’s Path to the Fashion Industry

Nowadays everybody is looking for a stylish kawaii top, super cute cat hole bra, hoodie, panty, choker, headband, etc. But Korean fashion is relatively new with all its kawaii clothing. Especially if to compare with the super-rich South African fashion. Here’s a story about the person who influenced that industry a lot.

South African born to Dutch parents, Erica de Greef, schooled in the divided 70’s and early ’80s of apartheid. Having an interest already in the concept of dress and identity she went on to study Fashion Design at Natal Technikon in the late ’80s, amidst the political tension and turbulence of SA where Fashion allowed the expression that crossed socio-cultural identities.  

After graduating with a Diploma in Fashion Design, she joined Linea Academy of Fashion in Durban for a year, developing course material & lecturing with a focus on design and history of fashion.  

Moving to Johannesburg in 1990, Erica gained industry experience befor a number of design houses, as well as extensively in the fil freelancing in design and patternmaking m and advertising industries.

It was in 1994, that Icon Clothing was launched, a label she still produces today.  Being interested in the interconnectedness of fashion and trend, dress and identity politics, it wasn’t long before Erica joined LISOF, where she lectured fulltime to   learners from 1998, with an aim to specialize in the history of fashion but starting with patternmaking, design, and theory; including design and textile theory.

It was upon starting with history (on all three learning levels) that the shortcomings of studying the eurocentric nature of the presently available information and research materials became evident and she started developing her own processes and explorations. It was by the keen observation of the emerging trends within the New South Africa (where new dress and identity dialogues were being addressed in the art galleries, on the ramps, and in the streets of the new urban landscapes) that Erica developed a short paper on the collective (SA) dress histories and the influence of these histories and memories in contemporary design outcomes and expression. The paper «Beyond the obvious», was presented at the 1st Dress Conference held at the University of KwaZulu Natal in 2005.

Shortly after this, Erica began on a project with SAFW (South African Fashion Week) and Adam Levin on developing the concept and necessary research for a possible publication of a book on the History of South African Fashion, being much inspired by a similar process that had occurred in the new Belgian fashion scene. In 2006, Erica participated in the Arts & Culture seminar of SAFW, as well as forwarding a proposal to the Department of Arts & Culture regarding the development of a local Costume Museum.  Currently Erica owns a clothing factory in downtown Johannesburg that manufactures her own label and provides a CMT service to designers and established SA brands, as well as continuing with LISOF, teaching design theory & history of fashion to 3rd and 4th year learners on a part-time basis with a special focus on developing original research and opinion on South African Fashion.

«Material Metaphors» was an exhibition curated by Erica from the collections at Museum Africa, Newtown, Johannesburg in 2008, to coincide with SSAFW(Autumn/Winter collections). This exhibition was developed to integrate the work of contemporary designers and the ethnographic and colonial collections within the museum.