Sanele Cele

Sanele Cele is a charismatic and determined fashion designer straight out of Umlazi making some national waves at the moment. Russell Grant did a fashion shoot with his label, Tempracha, because we wanted to share his steez and Bob Perfect had a chat with Sanele about being burned, what’s killing design and how he’s fighting to change that.


DIY: We’ll start this off with the a simple, who are you, where are you from and what do you do?

Sanele: Aight. My name is Sanele Cele, born and bred in Umlazi. Fashion designer, graphic designer, former blogger (laughs)


DIY:Why former blogger?

Sanele: Well I don’t really blog as much as I used to so it’s just me expressing myself now. It’s not about pushing the content and getting everybody onto what’s up and what’s going on. It’s more about me. Tad bit selfish, but yeah…


Right now, I feel like I’ve gotta fight for the designer in me


DIY: Okay well, we’ll get straight into it then, I’ve known you for a while now and we’ve worked together before, I know you’re not a self centered guy so why are now going the more it’s-about-me route?

Sanele: For me, collaborating with a person is us actually getting it together and fusing our talents and creating something that’s going to make money for both of us. But right now with most people, it’s just them making money from what you got. There’s no balance in that. So right now I really just focus on my own work because I’ve been hurt a lot by a couple of brands and a couple of people, I’m not gonna mention names, but that’s what I’m gonna say, I’ve just decided that at the end of the day it should be about me and me believing in something and I need to bring out what I believe and how I believe in it.



DIY: I met you because of STR CRD last year, you went back this year, how was it?

Sanele: Well, this year was pretty vibey. Vibier than last year. But for me, I was there for fashion, to observe what’s going on.


DIY:See anything good?

Sanele: Yeah, what I really like is that the kids are taking initiative and actually doing everything for themselves. It’s all about them and what they believe in. It’s not about brand association and them being brand whores. But the over-saturation in terms of the trends that have popped up right now, it ain’t looking good. That’s the part I didn’t like.


DIY: Everyone doing the same shit?

Sanele: Just the same shit man…


DIY: What was the most popular vibe going down?

Sanele: Prints man, there’s an over saturation of prints. There’s a certain way of actually doing prints. You know when you’re using a printed material, you shouldn’t put that much design into it because the print alone is already an art work by somebody else. So it’s you regenerating and adding more to something that somebody else has already done. So you might want to be kind and be subtle with whatever it is that you do with it. But what I found there was people not understanding the concept behind prints. So it’s just over saturated and people were killing it, it just doesn’t look right for me cause there was a whole lot of it. I just got depressed because I love what I do.



DIY: Speaking about loving what you do, what is it that got you into fashion? Why are you a designer? Because when we’ve spoken before, you’ve said that you’re not really a fashionista but that you love designing clothes for other people to make them look good. Why is that?

Sanele: Well my mom was a police woman, I’ve gotta give her credit, it’s always about her. As a hobby and as money on the side to feed her family, she sold clothes. She went to factory shops, and from the age of like 12, she’d take me with and show me what to look for. To look for rejects, look for little things like, is the fit right, because she was gonna sell it herself so I learned to pay attention to detail at a young age because you know factory shops sell rejects.


DIY: Yeah and you’ve got to just find the ones that don’t have fucked up stitching, or the flaws aren’t really visible…

Sanele: You understand what I’m saying. She got me into that. And on top of that, my dad was a fashionista. He was a ramp model and one of the first big models in SA. In every magazine, in every ad you can think of back in the 1970‘s. After that he went into business, I guess there just wasn’t a big enough market back then. And not forgetting, I sketch like a mother fucker. I was a creative kid and everything just kind of came together and my love for threads just grew and grew and it was pretty obvious what I was gonna do.


DIY: How long have you been designing for and how long has Tempracha been going for?

Sanele: The name Tempracha jumped out in  2006. I started studying design 2004, I quit school in 2006, funding problems, you know? Went back in 2008 and tried to pay for it myself, that didn’t work out properly so I thought “Nah, fuck it, I’m just gonna work.”


DIY: What did you get out of studying? And how important is it to study compared to learning on your own?

Sanele: Well what I got out of it was the basics, because I had no background in the family of anyone who did fashion and could sew so I needed those basics. I got a shitload out of the school but at that time I was a bit of a rebel and hated school and hated anybody telling me what to do. And that’s one thing I really regret, I should have stayed in school and studied and finished it. It kinda opens doors that I couldn’t open myself. I know I need to work ten times harder than a person with a degree because for them, doors are opened by their credentials. I don’t have that.



DIY: Lets talk a bit about your clothes, what was your recent Gold Member range all about?

Sanele: It first started out as me wanting to create stuff for the people I work with, the guys that have been helping me out. I just wanted to create something for them that they can be noticed with, and make them feel special. For my members. So I went out there searching for material and found material that had gold chains on that Chanel type vibe. And I’m not saying it’s something I came up with, Chanel already did it, I just found that material that looked good and I was like “Yoh, I’m definitely gonna do this for my team.” But after creating, everything looked so awesome, even my team was like “Nah, we need to sell this.” And so we chose to sell it and make it really limited so that anybody that buys it knows that they have a really limited piece.


DIY: Are you working on another range to sell after this one?

Sanele: Definitely, that’s how I’m gonna do. Right now I’m working on a range, but I’m keeping it under wraps as much as possible, but I already have the samples. You can expect something every two months.


DIY: Every two months?

Sanele: Yeah, cause like, right now, I feel like I’ve gotta fight for the designer in me. Fight for the designers out there. Because it’s kinda sad that everybody thinks that they can go out there and just thrift and actually label themselves as designers. Buy T-shirts, print on them, get caps from whichever brand, outsourced caps with prints on them and they call themselves designers. And they’re killing my kind and I don’t appreciate it any way, any form or fashion.


DIY: Yeah, cause you still actually make your own clothes. What’s your setup like, are you in a workshop or designing from home? And what’s your design process, do you see a material and go “Cool, I can do something with that,” or do you come up with the idea first and then find the material, or is it a bit of both?

Sanele: I have a home studio but I’m looking for a premises to set up a workshop. And anything that I do is based on the chemistry that I have with the material. I’ll go to town and go into a material shop and  whatever attracts my eye, I’ll take it. Then when I’m at home, I’ll start conceptualising what I can create with that material and find inspiration around me. So that’s basically my process, it starts with me going out to get the material and then sitting down with it and connecting with the material and then creating the pattern and sketching it out and constructing it. And from there we decide if it’s gonna work for the people out there.


DIY: And so that’s why you have a problem with people taking the easy way out…

Sanele: Yeah, for me, I just feel that right now, design is being killed. Well, within the art sector and within street culture.


DIY: Do you not think that maybe all the over saturation and with all the dudes making a logo and getting it screen printed, do you not think that people are gonna go “Fuck this shit,” and look for something different that is actually designed for them? That it kind of creates the market for a guy like you as well.

Sanele: It is for a certain number of people, but it’s a messed up situation. Right now, its just created a sense that anybody can do it and anybody can make money from it. So other people think “Why should I go and support that person when I can go out and do it so easily, like everybody else that is making money.” So that’s why I’ve gotta go out there and do ten times whatever it is that they’re doing that and show that there are still real designers. Even though it is gonna mess me up for a little while.



DIY: Do you ever see yourself creating a range for a bigger label or would you want everything you do to always be Tempracha and always just be your own label?

Sanele: What I really wanna do is collaborate with a whole lot of people, it doesn’t matter how big or small they are. If you’ve got something good going, I’m gonna take a crack at it. It’s not about Tempracha, it’s putting myself out there in a whole lot of ways. If I find what you bring to the table is good for me or if I find that you are a soluble brand that I can work with, I’ll definitely take you on and create a concept that we can both work with.


DIY: We’ll end this off with the usual shit, what do you have in the pipelines at the moment? And how can people get your threads?

Sanele: As I mentioned, I’ve got a range that I’m cooking up right now. One international collabo may be coming through in a month or two if everything goes well. And I might be doing something with New Balance but it’s still in the pipeline. Everything looks kinda promising right now. Oh, and people can find my stuff on my blog, and hit me up directly on twitter.


*All images except the header by Russell Grant. Header shot by Thanda Kunene. Shout outs to Dane, Jared, Emil and Pete for letting us shoot their pretty selves.

12 Responses to “Sanele Cele”
  1. luke says:

    jared is an uber babe. attn: ladiezzzzz.

  2. Rob says:

    Great interview and shots. Sanele is super talented.

  3. TEMPRACHA says:


  4. linda joyisa says:

    This is ma motivation to push hard, nd stronger…wish u all the best as a designer.

  5. Katalyst Mthembu says:

    Sanele and his brainchild Tempracha have been holding it down for a minute. Nobody works harder or has as much passion as this kid. Makes us proud being Durbanites.

  6. Sia says:

    That’s whatsup! great interview

  7. Que TheBrand Dlamini says:

    Sanele Cele is the wisest, most original individual i know_ i look up to this guy like a mofo and wish him all the best… You a major inspiration to myself along with a number of driven dream chasers i know, got madd respect for you bro (i never say much face to face because i can’t stop listening)

  8. Mat says:

    Yeah so sick boys!!
    Very damn cool!

  9. fuckhead says:


  10. Ntombi says:

    Hello I am an aspiring plus size based in durban and would be honouredb to work with you.

  11. Pascal says:


  12. jomo says:

    istyle sakho si dope boy qina ndoda

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