The Burn is a chic South African label you need to check out.
The Burn takes lead from classic 50s tailoring. Made for the contemporary fashion-loving woman, founder and designer Tanya Leigh Demby has found the perfect way in which to showcase her creations. She has set up a pop-up store in Nelson Mandela Square, and we caught up with the 26-year-old designer for a quick fashion-laden Q&A.
Who is The Burn client?
She is sophisticated, street smart, feminine and informed. She also has a passion for quality fashion with longevity.
Describe your current collection?
The winter collection has a 50s influence, but maintains a contemporary, fresh appeal to it. We’ve used tweeds in a Jackie O. silhouette, metallic linens and lace. We’ve also taken men’s suiting and used that in full skirts and fitted trousers. The collection comprises three dresses, two skirts, four tops, two trousers and a cropped jacket. The plan is to introduce a range of leather bags and jewellery too. Materials are sourced from local wholesalers in Johannesburg, and the collection is manufactured in the city centre.
Describe your design aesthetic?
My label is all about sophisticated, fuss-free dressing. Quality and attention to detail matter most. I want to create pieces with longevity. I want these items to work with your wardrobe beyond just one season.
When did you first realise that fashion was your passion?
When I was three-years-old, I received a little lilac sewing machine. Apparently I used to sit next to my mom and sew alongside her... I remember experimenting with the fabrics that my mom was going to use for her sewing classes. It was all about draping those beautifully printed chiffons into the most interesting combinations that resonated with me.
How did you pursue the fashion path?
I graduated form Lisof in 2007, and came third in the Foschini Design Awards that same year. I was a finalist in the Elle New Talent competition in 2008, and showcased another collection in 2009. I then relocated to London and explored parts of Europe. I drew a lot of inspiration from the people and the culture. I visited a lot of museums, installations and concept stores. I also studied short courses through London College of Fashion, including millinery, casting jewellery, textile embellishment, and business courses for start-up companies. When I returned I noticed a need for timeless pieces for women. That’s when the label became a reality. We launched in the beginning of the year, and our office is located in Braamfontein.
Take us through a typical week?
There’s nothing typical about a week, but more often than not I liaise with my patternmaker and source for fabric. Then it’s a case of visiting the manufacturers a few times during the week to either see samples or pick up the finished stock. Being based in Braamfontein makes these trips quite easy.
How did the pop-up shop come about?
After walking through Nelson Mandela Square I noticed vacant space, so I approached the centre management team and proposed the concept of a short lease for a pop-up shop. The pop-up store concept is still new in South Africa, but it was approved, and we set it up in less than a week. It will run for at least one month. I’m currently based in and around the pop-up store as it gives me the opportunity to test the market and get feedback about the label.
What’s the biggest challenge facing young designers locally, and what do you think can (and should) be done to facilitate a better way forward?
In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges is the desire to produce 100% local products, but due to limitations on local fabric we have no option but to use imported goods. Another challenge is mentorship. I feel that there are not enough structures in place to mentor and nurture new designers. It’s such a cutthroat industry, and at the end of day the designer has to fulfill many roles. Better education is essential.
Tell us about the name?
The name originates from my late grandfather, Bernard, who was born in Manchester and worked in the rag trade. Having worked in men’s tailoring, I continue to draw inspiration from his career, and maintain elements of the strong tailoring in my collection.
Check out Tanya’s 50s inspired collection when you visit The Burn pop-up store. Open Monday-Sunday, 9am-6pm, Nelson Mandela Square. Prices range from R350 – R1 000; www.facebook.com/theburningaltar
Photographer: Brett Rubin; Model: Leatitia/Boss Models; Stylist: Nicole Van Heerden; Hair and Make-up: Sarah Blatcher