Tshepo Mohlala's self-titled denim brand Tshepo The Jean Maker launched in 2015 and boasts a dedicated celebrity following, many of whom have been buying custom-made jeans from Tshepo for years. Among the brand's most famous fans are celebrity photographer Austin Malema, business mogul Sibusiso Mahone, TV presenter Bridget Masinga and actor, model and venture capitalist Maps Maponyane, all of whom came to Tshepo's defence when a furious Twitter row erupted in September 2018 between devoted fans of the brand and those who think that R950 is too expensive for a pair of designer jeans (for the record, it's not. We think Tshepo's carefully constructed jeans are more than worth the money!).
Happily enough Tshepo was unfazed by the social media storm. If anything, going 'viral' has actually helped bring more clients and given the exclusive label an instant form of recognition that most ad campaigns probably couldn't buy. In 2011, Tshepo dropped out of studying fashion design at the University of Johannesburg due to financial difficulties. Within two years however, he was crowned King of Denim alongside his then-partners African Swiss at the SA Fashion Week. Following a loan from a friend, Tshepo opened his debut self-titled store in Victoria Yards.
Among the most popular Tshepo designs is the slick, masculine Presidential Slim Fit jeans (currently only available for men, although he is always happy to create custom designs for women). Other popular items include Tshepo's denim dungarees and shirts, all of which come with Tshepo's distinctive crown logo (designed by news-making artist Ayanda Mabulu whose studio is two doors away), embroidered on them.
The store itself is part boutique, part studio and part celebrity hangout – don't be surprised to find Tshepo's celebrity fans and top artists hanging out in the showroom, which is located at the heart of the enticing new Victoria Yards complex in eastern Joburg, a sprawling formerly industrial area that is now home to cool design boutiques, artist studios and artisan workshops.