The gospel according to David Tlale

David Delivers his Harare ‘sermon’ to aspiring fashion designers (pic by Robin Chaibva)

By Robert Mukondiwa

Perched on a comfortable stool and with a group of awestruck fashion design dreamers before him, the god of fashion in Africa, King David Tlale, delivered one of the frankest sermons the fashion believers have probably ever had in Zimbabwe.

Frank, honest, candid, lucid and brutal like any god can be, David took the aspirants down his own story.

From being a small name dreaming about the big stages to the immortal that he has become, David Tlale has the ultimate story of the African dream come true and yet the road to him being big is obviously carved with a lot of tears, road-kill as he slayed the competition and his demons leading to the ultimate satisfaction of achievement.

After all, this is the man who has transformed the way Africa dresses and the manner in which the world sees the art of design and divine craft of fashion tooling according to Africa’s abilities and promise.

A David Tlale piece, is a heavenly piece of fashion reality. You can even be forgiven for thinking that the divinity of his mind and fingers combined can make a garment which when placed on a mannequin, transforms the lifeless structure and gives it a pulse, makes it break into a sweat, develop a heartbeat and the breath of life.

And now Tlale, courtesy of Edgars, was in Harare to hand down ideas on how to transform ordinary material into a creation that makes the eyes of any onlooker orgasm!

And he spilled the beans.

“”Don’t say I can put colours together so I am a fashion designer. Honey that does not make you a designer! Go to fashion school!” he implored without mincing his words.

In a country where anyone can pick up a needle and thread, brandish them dangerously and threaten to make a garment under the guise of being a fashion designer, it was about time Zimbabwe’s ‘’sewers’ were called out and told that it took more than a sewing kit and a loud mouth to be considered a fashion designer.

Tlale, in spite of his obscene inner talent and design panache, spent years in fashion school, the last three of which were spent with him occupying the apex of his faculty as the best student. But there is no short cut to the top so fashion school basic training is a must have, he insists.

In between ogling at his garment, which both confirmed that black will always be the new black, as well as be dazzled of the numbers on his piece and loudly quiet accessories and drooling at his ideas, the rookies and aspirants in the room definitely left with a lot of lessons.

And there were times when one would almost swear that this god of fashion would soon be deep in transfiguration and rise slowly off to fashion heaven in a cloud of white smoke.

Thankfully for his eager learners he didn’t.

“Because we want to compete globally let us compete with global standards. Let’s respect the craft then the world will take us seriously,” said David.

When all was said and done, his protégés, particularly the winners of an Edgars internship program Heather Madlabuta, Kuda Chihungwa and Sekai Sandamu from the designers’ initiative were better positioned to take on the cut throat world of fashion design.

All hail King David.


“Go back to school and get the basics right!”

“Make time for things that matter.”

“You can’t be everything. Choose your struggles and stay in your lane!”

“If your dream doesn’t scare you then it ain’t no dream!”

“Pattern making is the time for foreplay!”

“Your CV means nothing to me but I have to connect with you.”

“When you create designs you make love.”

Follow Robert Mukondiwa on Twitter @zimrobbie