We chat to local designer and SA Fashion Week x Mr Price Scouting Menswear winner Robyn Agulhas about her trailblazing sports-inspired streetwear brand.
What inspired you to start the Sinchui brand?
Sinchui was my graduate collection brand. After the response I received and being selected for the Design Indaba Class of 2020, I knew I had to work towards building this brand. I come from a generation of tailors and garment workers and grew up around what used to be a large industry in Cape Town. My mom sold buttons and trims, and later went on to open up her own business. [I would] see all the women of colour around me in the industry, some of the most stylish women, working as trims buyers or clerks, but they never got to be designers. I’m the first fashion designer in my family, and to have my brand walk the SA Fashion Week runway felt like a moment of my ancestors’ wildest dreams coming true.
How would you describe the Sinchui aesthetic, and for whom do you design?
Sinchui is a South African designer brand with a streetwear influence. My designs are inspired by street style from across the world. I design for anyone who feels connected to my work. My designs are gender neutral and I love pushing boundaries.
What was your inspiration for this collection?
The brief was “from sport to street” and my inspiration was soccer. I grew up with my dad playing soccer, he was really passionate about it and ended up coaching many young boys from the community in which he grew up, a community filled with drug addiction and gangsterism. As a young girl, I would spend Saturdays on the soccer field and saw the impact sport had on many young boys and girls. I feel like my style was introduced to me at a young age in the community — it’s where my love of sneakers developed.
Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?
All my designs are special to me, as I sew most of them myself and work on the process from start to finish. This collection is a win over my doubts and a journey in learning to trust my intuition. But if I had to choose one, it would be the look Moozlie wore to Cotton Fest Cape Town. The soccer-scarf-inspired jacket has an avant-garde element to it that I love tapping into.
What three elements can one always expect from a Sinchui garment?
Quality fabric, design detail, and innovation.
What would people be surprised to know about Sinchui?
I’m one person behind the brand and I have been working on this process since 2020. I’m growing at my own pace and improving day by day. The journey is rough but there is so much love in this brand.
What is next for Sinchui in 2024?
A collaboration with Mr Price, [which is] coming to stores mid-year, and having our garments accessible in various stores.
• From the February edition of Wanted, 2024.