Making a mark

Making a mark

Get to know more about Mzukisi Mbane, designer and founder of local brand, Imprint, and peep a first look at our exciting new collaboration.

Written by Alexander Brand


Afro-Futuristic, Pan-African fashion brand Imprint, founded by Mzukisi Mbane in 2013 and officially launched at Design Indaba in 2015, has grown from strength to strength in its almost decade-long existence. Celebrating glamour and conveying the stories of African culture through iconic prints, fabrics and specific moments in time, Imprint has undoubtedly made its mark.

The man behind the print

With a love for clothing and design, but no prior experience in the fashion industry, Mzukisi, a former accounting student, started Imprint from his home in Khayelitsha.

“One thing I knew was that I wanted to create something unique, from a relatable story. And [something] that was very important to me was that my brand be accessible and affordable,” he says. The fact that Mzukisi was passionate about fashion but couldn’t afford it himself motivated him to make Imprint attainable to anyone and have them be a part of its story.

Markham x Imprint

Authentic storytelling through design has always been Mzukisi’s first priority, and by collaborating with Markham, he feels that he can now reach a wider audience. “People in Khayelitsha, where I’m from, should be able to walk into a retail store and be able to buy and celebrate what the brand stands for,” he says.

Mzukisi believes that by partnering with Markham, both he and the rest of the country can celebrate what he has been able to build over the years. “It helps me share my brand story with everyone in South Africa,” he says.


Markham’s head of marketing, Nicol Rademeyer, points out that Imprint’s bold range and design elements align perfectly with the trends and orientations of this season’s themes, adding the flair of the global south. “There is a movement towards heritage and locality, and Imprint’s work tells the story of design in our country. It is important for retailers to work with South African designers and upcoming talent to ensure that we grow the fashion industry,” he says.

‘Inkomi yaBenguni’

Nicol believes the beauty of Imprint and Mzukisi’s backstory lies in the fact that each print tells its own unique story. Mzukisi worked on three different designs for the Markham collab and considers the pink Inkomi yaBenguni print to be especially meaningful because it demonstrates the “true Imprint effect.”

While pink, yellow and green were introduced to the print later, its beginnings were red, blue and white, inspired by the iconic African shopping bags that are used widely across the continent. 

“It [also features] cow heads, which are taken from my print, Inkomi yaBenguni, which tells the story of my Nguni people, the significance of a cow, what it symbolises to our culture, the life that it gives, the life that it takes, and the families that it brings together,” Mzukisi says.


‘Africa is not a trend’

The black-and-white print, ‘Africa is not a trend’, is one of Mzukisi’s favourites and takes most of its inspiration from Malians.

“The message or inspiration behind it was about just celebrating Africa, celebrating the diversity, and celebrating what we own as Africans. That’s the message that we wanted to push out with the print,” he says.

‘Futuristic zebra’

For many, when you think Imprint, you think zebra. For this collection, Mzukisi elevates the print that he’s become known for with the addition of teal. “I wanted to take it to the future because that’s what Imprint is about — it’s an Afro-Futuristic brand,” he says.

He was also inspired to take the look further thanks to a running joke between him and his team about futuristic zebras. “That’s what zebras are going to look like, according to Imprint, in the future,” he laughs.

The process of the collaboration has been thrilling for Mzukisi; who says that he really enjoyed working in a larger retail space and learning about areas that Imprint hasn’t explored yet. “It’s just been beautiful working with the Markham team and seeing everything come to life. Seeing the samples during the shoots. It’s been a magical journey, and I am super excited to see where it goes,” he says.