Classical dancer turned designer creates beautifully bespoke Indo-African garments

Founder of Khanya Designs, Verushka Pather. Picture: Supplied

Founder of Khanya Designs, Verushka Pather. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 8, 2023


There is nothing quite like a garment that has been made with love and is totally unique to you.

And, with more awareness around waste and sustainability, there are more brands popping up that are all about small-scale production, handmade designs and bespoke designs and accessories.

One such brand is Khanya Designs. A unique brand of Indo-African designs born in Africa with a fragrance of India. The visionary behind this fusion brand is classical dancer turned fashion designer, Verushka Pather.

Khanya Designs signature wrap. Picture: Supplied

Pather’s mission for her brand is not only about creating tailor-made garments but also about adhering to sustainable fashion by making them eco-friendly.

Born in Malabar in Gqeberha, she is now a resident in Ballito north of Durban. After matriculating in 1994, Pather took a gap year and worked as a bank teller, saved some money and then left for India in 1996.

She said she always wished to be a dancer and she has been blessed to be able to fulfil that desire. She said the arts have always been her calling in life.

As the founder and fashion designer at Khanya Designs, Pather said the brand was born after she could not find 100% cotton in vibrant colours and robust designs.

“Even 10 years ago the average individual would work and save to purchase a branded item, a name brand. Why is this so?

“Khanya Designs attributes its success not only to a compelling clothing line but also to a business philosophy that sets the foundation for triumph. With an eye on dominating the fashion scene in Kwa-Zulu Natal and beyond, the brand envisions itself as a symbol of style, quality, and cultural fusion.

“The heart of Khanya Designs' strategy lies in the aggressive development and marketing of a diverse Indo-African collection, setting the stage for rapid growth,” she said.

“I have always worn African fabrics in my daily wear. When I started wearing a shweshwe blouse and dance costumes I felt a deep sense of pride with the uniqueness of what belongs to us.

“There is no separation between the two, I am always a dancer and I always see colour in everything I wear, and what I choose for others to wear.

“People get misled when they see a traditional, double-nose pierced Indian woman and ask themselves what would she know about African fabrics and traditions?’

“It is not so much about what I know, but what resonates in my heart. I may be Indian, but I am an Indian African, true to my birthplace. Loving, respecting, and imbibing the traditions of our land into our homes, lives, and clothes,” she explained.

“So this culture and fabric has also weaved itself into my life. Always been there just coming forth now. It brings me utter joy to share the weave of my land with the world,” Pather added.

She shared: “Khanya the name was inspired by my love and time in India and the boons of my birth land of Africa.

“Kanyakumari is the southern tip of India and inkanyiso is shining light in isiZulu. The merging of the two has given birth to Khanya Designs, which means ‘let your soul shine’.

“Our mission is to embrace the challenges faced in India and Africa regarding child labour and the abuse of natural fibres. Beyond fashion, the brand shapes narratives of sustainability.

“Committed to ethical wardrobe creation, we utilise organic and recycled materials, ensure supply chain transparency, and embrace minimal impact policies.

“We contribute to the fashion revolution in South Africa, and invite you to join the journey toward a more conscious and diverse fashion world.”

Khanya Designs garments. Picture: Supplied

Since its inception, the brand has shipped to the USA, UK, Australia and throughout Europe.

When asked what fashion means to her, Pather said, “Fashion is a rich tapestry of heritage, history and heart. Our clothes are crafted for comfort and style.”