Image by Jerry Mokgofe
White shirts occupy an iconic place in the fashion landscape. From classic button-ups to shirt dresses, and all the spaces in-between, they take-up a seminal place in our collective closets; able to easily journey between casual combinations and more formal stylings.
For Johannesburg-based designers, Yasmin Furmie and Cynthia Allie, white shirts are everything. They have built their label, SiSi Collection, around the iconic piece with imagination and innovation as their trademark. Since 2016, SiSi Collection has offered fresh takes on the staple, with a diverse range that that appeals to many stylish sensibilities.
Tomorrow, they launch their third capsule collection at Humankind on Jan Smuts Avenue in Johannesburg. We caught up with them to find out more about the brand:
How did you meet?
We met years ago when I first came to SA. I went to Cynthia’s fashion school graduation.
Why the name SiSi Collection?
We chose the name because of the connotation of sisters, and the connection between us. We feel like friends, sisters and family. We had gone far and wide with names and then someone close to us said ‘Why not Sisi, you call each other that all the time’?
How did the idea for SiSi Collection begin?
Yasmin: Cynthia is the queen of white shirts and we’ve always wanted to do something together in the fashion space.
Can you take us through your design process?
We often sit together in a coffee shop and think about what we love, what our daughters would want and then work from there. We come up with ideas and Cynthia sketches as I can’t draw for the life of me . It’s a true collaborative effort.
Why white shirts as a starting point?
It was a no brainer - people love white shirts. Simple !
How has the collection evolved over time?
We started out fairly simply in terms of style and currently there’s small details that have been added . We are also launching black shirts with this new collection.
Which South African designers inspire you?
Thebe Magugu, Clive Rundle and all the young designers working really hard to get their collections out
What classic pieces do you think every woman should own?
We think every woman should own a SiSi shirt of course. A great statement pair of shoes
How would you describe your personal style?
Yasmin: I would describe it as a masculine take on layering, that is built around a pair of gorgeous shoes. It’s always unexpected, pushes boundaries and challenges long-held biases around race, gender, religion and age.
Why can we expect from the new collection, and why the decision to add black shirts?
With the brand growing, the new collection has many more styles and the addition of black seemed the natural progression . If we aren’t wearing white shirts, the go to is certainly black.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve experienced?
Having to control our finances correctly and not letting a great turnover get to our heads, and go straight into our wallets. We try to always focus on knowing that we always have to keep our eye on growing the business and have foresight around the future of SiSi Collection and where we are looking to take the brand.
What are your favourite pieces from the collection?
Cynthia : White layered frill shirt Yasmin Black side tie shirt dress
The launch of the third SiSi Collection capsule takes place from 10am at Humankind, 259 Jan Smuts Avenue. They are asking everyone attending to bring sanitary pads to donate for Dowling Primary School.