JJ Schoeman The Brand
True Love|December 2019
This master designer shares his passion for all things fashion and nuggets of wisdom
Tsakane Ndlovu

How would you describe your personal style?

Very boring and predictable [chuckles]. Call it basic or classic. I like normal-looking clothes that are functional. Whether casual or smart, it must be the right size – loose or fitting.

Define the JJ Schoeman brand?

It's all about the “Oomph” factor. Stylish and classic, luxurious and with a "wow" factor. The focal point could be one of many things – the legs, the back, the face, the fit or something that defines the look.

What's your favorite part about being a designer?

Being a designer is so complex and multifaceted, I think that's what I like most. Meeting different and wonderful people. The fantasy part of it allows you to dream and create, bringing realness to fantasy and vice versa.

What's your earliest design memory?

I remember drawing a full menswear clothing collection on the flipside of an auction advertisement paper, the paper was blue. Each item I drew was given a look name and the detail of it was described. My gran put the paper behind a portrait for safekeeping. I think I was six or seven years old.

What rookie mistake did you make when starting out?

A client wanted me to design a dress with a long sleeve on one side and no sleeve on the other side. The long sleeve was to be cut in one without a seam. I didn’t make a pattern and I just folded the fabric for the style. After cutting it, I realized that I cut both side's sleeveless. There was no money left in the budget to buy new fabric, so I stylishly decorated the dress so that the mistake wouldn't show. When the client came to try the dress on, she said: “Oh and I love what you did with the sleeve.”

How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?

Powerful and fabulous at any time of the day or night. I remember what a former Miss SA said to me on her return from the Miss World pageant where she wore an original JJ Schoeman dress. She said: “I just never felt that beautiful.” That was truly a great compliment.

What was your biggest fear when going out and starting your own line?

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