By: Sandy Nene

RAW SILK is a reality-talent competition that follows fashion designers who have amazing talent but zero opportunity to be recognised. Each episode see’s designers going head to head with each other to see which one of them is the right material to be the next fashion designer extraordinaire! The show takes raw talent and transforms it into a well packaged designer with a bright future. Each week they are given a brief that they have to do and the designers are followed by a camera  crew as they go about doing their research, buying suitable material, doing measurements and sewing. At the end of the task the each designers showcase their work in front of the three judges and one designer’s dream will be shattered by elimination at the end of every episode.

We recently caught up with Siyabonga Ntini, a designer who’s been showing outstanding results since the show started, being the only designer named ‘Deisgner of the week’ more than two times.

Tell more about yourself?

I’m an art enthusiast that happens to make clothes. Born and bread in Johannesburg and after high school had a hippie phase and decided to move to Durban to study fashion at DUT. I initially wanted to do graphic design or industrial design but fashion design has always kinda of had a stronger hold on me so I’ve given in from then till now.

Why Fashion & What has the industry taught you?

I’ve always felt that I could express myself with much ease through fashion and I find it empowering to be able to switch up a person’s external image into whatever they feel within for whatever situation. I’ve learnt quite a lot from the industry but I think the most important for me is doing your research. Getting to learn about things that in a normal setting you wouldn’t bump into. Its an intense industry so you also learn to trust your instincts but also having an open mind.

If not fashion, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be a painter or something weird.

Where do you go for some fashion inspiration?

Inspiration for me is everywhere but occasionally when I need tangable inspiration, I read.

How did you hear about the show Raw Silk?

Friends and cousins sent mw the ad to enter and I had no reason not to. I’ve always been interested in doing something similar its just we’ve never really had such a platform until RawSilk.

What was your reaction when you heard that you were one of the 13 designers selected to be part of the show?

I was excited initially but got nervous quite quick. And the worst thing is that I couldnt share the wxperience with anyone so the whole time I was a complete mess

Tell how has the journey being like?

Adrenaline. I cant explain much but I spent the whole season besides myself. It might’ve not seemed as such but my mind was constantly absorbing thing that I didnt have enough head room to enjoy the experience.

You have been named ‘Designer of the week’ 3 times, how do you keep being the judges’ favourite?

I listen to the brief carefully. In that way you’ve given the judges exactly what they asked for but because we’re creatives we also to be considerate to our aesthetics and personal preferences. They love it when you’re true to yourself but also have enough respect to listen to the criteria.

Tell us why do you think it is important to make sure that one follows all instructions when they are in a competition?

Listen. Listen. Listen.  Listen to the judges. Listen to yourself. Listen to your peers  it’s a competition but find one person to bounce stuff off. You’ll feel less cornered.

Which designer do you consider your competition out of the ones you are left with on the show?

I never had competition. I had friends. We wished great things for eachother each and every elimination. I became good friends with Cinani and James so I’ll always be biased so they are my favourites.