Behind The Garment: Gerhardt Shebe

By: Precious M. Lesupi

In Gerhardt Shebe’s hometown, Bethulie, fashion for a young boy of colour was taboo. “I secretly played dress-up with my sister and had fashion shows when we were alone,” he said. “It was not easy to tell my family I wanted to do fashion, that’s why I went to culinary school first; to build more self-confidence and find myself,” he explains. This was not much of a train smash for the well-reckoned designer because of his love for food.

Shebe’s love for garments of different colours and textures dates back to the 1995 Miss South Africa pageant where his fascination with evening gowns was birthed. Formal wear is this designer’s territory and his love for “the experience of dressing up” is what rules this work. Shebe’s creative mind and space are filled with memories of where he comes from although having been quite uneasy. Thoughts of obstacles he has had to overcome become what bring out his creative juices.

Never give up. A garment was just a piece of fabric but your vision gave it life. Remember that some of us just work harder, but at the end of it all, you will enjoy the fruits of your labour.

From winning at the 2017 Free State Fashion Week and featuring in Tshwane Fashion Week, some of Shebe’s biggest achievements include dressing Top Billing’s Jeannie D, international model Natesha Sighn, former Miss SA Tatum Keshwar and award-winning actress Crystal-Donna Roberts.

Some of the very exciting projects Shebe is currently working on include printing his own material, which has been a long-life dream, as well as a men’s line. “It’s great that more men are appreciating fashion and are starting to take dressing-up more seriously,” he adds.

While working on other projects, Shebe creates face masks that are tailored to remind people that despite the pandemic and crisis we are facing, we shouldn’t cease to be unique and fashionable. As much as the fashion industry like any other sector has taken a hit during this global pandemic, as a designer, he reminds himself every day how important it is to “know our worth and stay true to ourselves”.

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