Traditional Southern African designs in wool and leather are currently showcased at SAITEX, as skilled regional craftsmen and women looked to broaden the market for their goods.

Hand-woven woollen garments from Lesotho and leather goods from Swaziland which reflect national and regional colours and depict wildlife are on display at adjoining stands.

Clothing designer Thabile Rantsatsig, pictured, from Lesotho, said: “We came to this event to show the range of dresses and shirts we can offer.

“I like to use the colours of our flag, blue for rain, white for peace and green for pasture in my designs. Others will use colours associated with districts and their football teams.

“But we also take influences from Europe.”

The cotton which is used in the garments comes from Lesotho and Matanki Rulintsi showed off her weaving skills at the stand using technology which has been passed down succeeding generations.

“This is the way cloth has always been created in Lesotho,” she said.

Leather belts, bags and accessories are also on show in the SAITEX hall. The original hides come from Swaziland but they are processed abroad before being reimported as leather.

“We are showing the designs which originate in Swaziland, but are mainly sold to South African customers,” said Dumsile Simelane.

“On show are necklaces which are based on our flag, leather wristbands which have the country’s name branded and bags with zebras, giraffes and lions on them.

“This show has been a great way to demonstrate the craftsmanship of our work and allow it to reach a much wider audience.”

Visit stands F20 (Swaziland) and P58 (Lesotho) in Hall 3 at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg.
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