Zaid Philander – Sustainable Style
Zaid Philander has been on the South African Fashion scene for a few years now. He is the Designer/Founder of I-Scream & Red, an environmentally friendly company which strives to achieve sustainability within the textile industry. Bags include Laptop Sling Bags, Messenger Bags, Back packs, Duffle bags and Tog bags which are made from recycled seat belts and 100% cotton or reused upholstery which are sourced in the surrounding areas of production and are made by people with disabilities.
What drew you to the fashion industry?
Growing up, I was surrounded by the CMT (Cut make and Trim) Factories and production lines of which many family members were seamstresses/machinists for. Then, once South Africa opened its exporting gates, several of those friends and family members lost their jobs due to cheap labour from the East. Ever since, many of these ex-employees found it difficult to start something of their own as within a normal production line, you will find a machinist that is issued with only one particular job to make the line run faster (so for example, one person will only work on a collar of a shirt or cuffs). The result being that the individual not being able to work independently and therefore would always depend on the work from the factory and can not make a shirt of his or her own. I then decided that one day I will change the way the production of clothing is done. And I have done so by firstly promoting artisanal hand-made products where we teach people from their homes how to make a product from start to finish. This then means that our makers can therefore make products of their own and are not dependent on only the work of I Scream & Red. More-so, we provide people with usable skills, while not just giving them a job, but helping them to start with their very own careers.
Have there been any notable challenges that you’ve faced in getting to where you are now?
Of course. Growing up as a kid I never enjoyed Ice Cream and my favorite color has always been Red. Based on the name of our business alone we experienced difficulties. Years ago when working on this business, we went through a very discouraging time when one of our makers was robbed and our machines were stolen. I became very despondent and had to close the business for a while. Then, after my dad witnessed myself going into a bit of depression, he then suggested that I pick myself up and restart. In doing so, I then kept the name Ice Cream (something that I never liked to remind me of the bad times) and Red (something I liked to remind me of the good times). So it is definitely personal challenges as well as physical.
A big issue was also transport for our wheelchair enabled makers who often can never attend events and even for myself I overcame challenges as I needed to use public transport to get into townships whilst dodging dangerous roads and areas with expensive equipment.
What has been the highlight of your career this far?
I think there has not been one specific highlight, but just seeing our disabled makers improve and start making it on their own is my biggest reward.
However, I was very proud of an article that was done on us by the Guardian UK online as well as the top 200 Young South African Awards by the Mail & Guardian this year. But to be honest, I am most proud of how I have proven myself, and to others that one can change and be a greater influence for positive change, whether that is in the form of just sharing our story or getting a piece of attention in a magazine or blog!
What can we expect next from you?
Next we are planning to have a workshop space in Woodstock, Cape Town where we will be teaching members of the public how to sew and these workshops will be done by people with disabilities. We also plan on exporting soon to other countries whilst continuing to work with other creative South Africans like Gavin Redman where we have made the ‘Cleva Lapie’ (a multi purpose cloth that can be used as gift wrap, turned into a bag or even used as an accessory it is also printed with Artworks of local Cape Town Artists/ graphics designers that receive a royalty fee for each product sold).
We definitely plan on growing our business, teaching more makers and plan on doing more Fashion events to eliminate the glamorized idea of fashion and showing it for its true purpose which is to unite people, to speak a universal language and to create a planet friendly movement in a responsible way and we will do that one bag at a time!
For more information on Zaid Philander or I-Scream & Red click here
Or visit their Facebook page here