To top
20 Jan

Yasmin Furmie on The Business of Fashion!

Most well known in the fashion circles of South Africa, Yasmin Furmie is all about disrupting the norm.

Yasmin is a firm believer in being able to express yourself at any age, unapologetically.

“I’m a big proponent of women doing the things that they love without apologising. Women…people of every age doing what they want to do with passion. I’m also outspoken about the constant emphasis on youth only in campaigns and photoshoots. I’m honoured to be involved in something like this. I am 60-years-old and I want everybody to know you can do what you like at any age.”

Growing up in Riverlea, South West Joburg, from a mixed family that includes Indian, Black and White, Yasmin is the true definition of a cultural mix.

She went to school for a short period in Westbury, Saint Barnabas, before her parents decided to move the family to Australia where Yasmin finished off her high school and university.

She travelled for a while thereafter before returning to South Africa.

The 60-year-old owns a contemporary classic shirt brand with her best friend Cynthia Allie called SiSi the collection.

“I would have loved to pursue a fashion career much earlier in my life because I have always been obsessed with beautiful things whether it’s clothing or shoes- just the beauty of everyday. At the time I was heading to university I didn’t think that was an option. The creative field was always discouraged – “you’ll never make money, you need to do something stable” – the usual things parents tell their children. I went into a more traditional female career of social work.”

While she enjoyed her career she always had a longing to do something else.

“In the journey of our lives we are fulfilled by what we do at the time we are doing it. We may hangar after something else but part of our growth and who we become is doing something we didn’t necessarily plan to do but actually suits us. I think I was a good social worker. I am very good with people and seeing how structural issues affect people. You have to be good at doing that when you are a social worker. Then you move into another phase of your life and the thing that you are passionate about becomes the thing that fulfils you at that time.”

Her love for fashion was inspired by her father.

“I always used to say my father was a stylish person but I think I had a family full of stylish people. I think as Africans we can look back at our family members and see someone who was always trying to look good. I grew up in a time when Apartheid was at its height and people used clothes as a form of expression, at times protest but mostly to retain their pride and dignity.

Her husband is stylish in his own way – classic and conservative while her son and daughter have their own personal styles.

African influence on fashion has been going on for a long time.

“At the moment Africa has the spotlight but fashion goes in phases, whether it’s influence from Asia or from Africa. This continent has always had a lot to do with fashion and what has been taken into Europe – in terms of print, gold, accessories. What is evident is our bold personality and style that has been taken by other designers and Africans look at that in awe when those styles come from here.”

Yasmin adds that the way Africans have looked to the global North for inspiration is coming to an end.

“People are looking at our continent for what’s new. We have to call out appropriation where it happens because if there is no involvement with the communities where that influence is taken from, it’s unacceptable and has to be called out to bring it to an end. Where the essence of style and fashion has come from is firmly planted on this continent. We have to be proud and stop looking at the labels. There are incredible things happening here with creativity that is unsurpassed.”

On fast fashion

“It’s a complex issue. It’s not just about telling people not to buy it because it kills the fashion industry. We have to look at the economic climate because there are people who perhaps can’t afford local South African designers who may price their items a little bit higher. The issues have to be a little bit more nuanced in that discussion. What we have to remember is the layers that go on behind fast fashion. There is often exploitation of workers and when people realise that chain is exploitative perhaps they will make a different decision about what it is they buy. Even if it is one local thing rather than 10 things that come from China. I prefer to buy one good thing rather than worry about how other people are affected by my choices.

In her wardrobe

“I’ve been lucky in that a lot of people have gifted things to me. I’ve also collected things over the years. I’ve also bought fast fashion from stores. It’s just that as we grow and know what’s going on in the industry, you start making more conscious choices. If you buy things that are inexpensive, buy something that you can keep a lot longer than it ending up in some landfill. The environmental impact of that is terrible. When you are buying things you can keep or things that are timeless you can build your wardrobe around a few pieces.”

While she doesn’t deny that she has a lot of clothes, she also loves good quality shoes and handbags with some designer pieces from Europe

“I’m a keen supporter of local and I have a lot of pieces from SA designers.”

The local designers she would love the world to know more about include Thebe Magugu who is already making waves across the globe.

“I have loved Thebe from day one, the time he did his graduate collection. I’ve been an admirer of his political sense and how he translates that into his fashion. It’s not just pieces of clothes he brings out, there is clear and intentful thought that goes into making his clothes.”

Another favourite is Jacques Bam, a new designer, who has an ‘incredibly edgy eye’ according to Yasmin.

Rich Mnisi’s boldness is something Yasmin admires.

“Rich is proud of who he is and it comes out in the clothes he produces. He is not shy of his sexuality or in bringing that out in what he does.”

Yasmin adds SiSi because it represents timelessness.

“We have an unusual model and our brand works for people across the board – young, old, whatever gender.”

Advice to emerging designers

“We tend to overthink the things we want to do because risk is not a nice idea because it is fearful and you don’t know what the outcome is going to be.

When I started thinking about what I wanted to do with a business of fashion, I went to my best friend, we decided what we wanted to do and didn’t even have a business plan. I’ve always said that if you are creative, you just do it. Start off by just doing it. Social media is an incredible platform to use to sell your stuff. It doesn’t have to be such an overarching thing that requires the bank for you to start. You have friends and family and people who can give you advice.When you have an idea, overthinking is the biggest disservice you can do to yourself.”

Fashion designer: Ezokhetho @ezokhetho
Footwear: Preview Designer collection @preview_designer_collection

Monetise brand in fashion

Yasmin started using social media with no intention of ever monetising her presence.

“It just so happened that I was incredibly fortunate that people started noticing my unique style. It took a while in the beginning because I had no idea what to charge but I knew people in the industry that I could ask and that has been an incredible help. You have to speak to people to find out what is going on in the industry. Social media is something I enjoy doing, it’s not a job for me. The collaborations and partnerships happen quite organically.”

How has fashion changed your life?

“I don’t think it’s changed my life, I think we are constantly changing in the sense of how we feel about certain things. Right now I am involved with fashion because I love the stories individual items tell when I put them together. It expresses my mood, it communicates what I think about the status of women in terms of my religion, beliefs, politics. So I’m always going to see and use fashion as a vehicle for telling incredible stories of who I am and I think people can take that on board and tell their own individual stories. Fashion is not a copy and paste, we can all wear the same thing differently.”

Brazen, brave, unapologetic are just some of the words she chooses to describe her style.

“I’m loud, in your face and I take up space. We all know what it’s like to be unsure of yourself and want to fit in. We admire those who stand out. That assertiveness and confidence comes with age, experiences, failures and successes, marriages, children, great friendships. It comes with a whole lot of things that build upon the layers of who you are and how you the translate that into fashion and styles

Trends over the years

Yasmin calls denim the zeitgeist of trends through the years, she was heavily influenced by her father and has watched the trend grow stronger through the years.

“Trends I would forget about are the low cut jeans. I have long since decided I would not go for trends because you always feel you are on the backfoot. Once you adopt a trend, there is always a new one coming along. You can take from what is happening and make it your own. I wear things from years ago and I don’t care that it is in fashion or not.”

Wardrobe designer: Mantsho @palesamokubung Footwear: Europa Art @EuropaArt Accessories: Preview accessories @preview_accessories |

Fashion moments to bring back

“A lot of the trends I wore have made a comeback, things like shorts and cowboy boots, girly dresses with chunky boots. Kitten heels have come and gone. Chunky brogues and the like. A trend I won’t let go of is wearing sneakers with whatever I have. Comfort is my biggest friend and I’m an absolute sneakerhead.”

5 fashion guests she would like to host (past and present).

Yohji Yamamoto

Issey Miyake

Vivienne Westwood was politically outspoken.

Thebe Magugu

Jamal from bubblegum club

Wardrobe designer: Mantsho @palesamokubung Footwear: Europa Art @EuropaArt Accessories: Preview accessories @preview_accessories |

Yasmin on the state of fashion

“There will always be moments where we look at it and think if people are really being creative or looking back and recycling. ButI think the fact that we have creative people in the world, the fact that environments change, politics change, there will always be designers in art, music or fashion that will reflect that. We just need to know where we stand in relation to what we want. You need to find where you fit.”

Yasmin believes in writing down the things she would love to see happen in her life.

“I’d love to do a collaboration with a big brand, walk on an international runway. I’m hoping there are big things happening for me.”

Yasmin’s other loves include travelling, great food…especially when travelling.

“I always check where the good restaurants and cool coffee shops are. I am also in love going to art galleries, I love reading, listening to podcasts and just being challenged by people around me. I don’t like being stale and I don’t like to be frivolous.”

Yasmin grew up buying all sorts of fashion magazines from the Vogues of the world to Harper’s Bazaar and the like.

“My grandfather used to buy them for me because he knew I loved them so much. The magazines we had where designers could showcase their work are gone and I find that really sad. Social media isn’t the only thing, yes you can look at things online but touching the actual paper and going through it is special. There was so much more than fashion when it came to these magazines and it’s sad that they are no longer part of our scene.”

Yasmin’s model body can be seen in the front rows of local fashion weeks. She emphasises on the importance of putting good, nutritious food into your body.

“My gyming and food and what I put into my body has been a journey. When we are young we put anything in our bodies and you don’t see the consequences of it. But I think as you grow older you have knowledge of what is good and bad. I started off with yoga before gym, always being an active person. With food I am conscious of what I eat. I eat in moderation, healthy for the majority of the  time and then times when I want to eat fish and chips with vinegar and bread.”

designer suit: The Bam collective @bamcollective Footwear: Preview Designer collection @preview_designer_collection Eyewear & accessories: Preview accessories @preview_accessories


The nice thing about getting older, you don’t care what people think of you. It can be difficult when you’re in a community where there are a lot of conservative people around you. I’m fortunate that I am not in such a community. I live with diverse friends and family. Many are conservative but they do realise I do things that make me happy. I don’t do things that offend people. I live my truth and that belief in myself propels me through.”

Her children keep her grounded, even when there are times she would like to be a little more over the top.

“I love walking and prayer as well to help keep me grounded.”

Life lessons

You don’t always get what you want when you want it. You have to work towards it. Nothing comes as easily as some people make it out to be. Some are fortunate but the majority of us have to do the things we need to to make whatever plans and ideas we have to come to fruition. It takes failure and making mistakes, important lessons for our growth.”

There are a few things she would like to change from the past but then again all those experiences have helped her grow.

“There are some people Inwould love to erase but that is part of the lessons of failure. Sometimes we fail to see what our guts tell us. We want to go because we want to please people.”

For the women who aspire to be as fabulous as she is:

The most important thing for anybody who wants to own who they are is to have an extremely good belief in oneself. To work on confidence if you don’t have it. We aren’t born with a stamp we have on us. It’s important to continue to learn and to be self aware. Having the knowledge, in terms of your psychology and relationships with other people is important in gauging where you stand in relation to them and how they view you and how you view yourself. When those two things come together that’s when you know you are in a place of comfort and self belief.

Designer dress & cap: Mantsho @palesamokubung Accessories: Preview accessories @preview_accessories

Lessons to unlearn

“Biggest unlearning is women being over pleasers, we want to be there for everybody and do things for them. We want to jump in where we shouldn’t. Let’s focus on ourselves a lot more and not always want to overextend ourselves”

It was in her late 20s when she decided she wanted to get married and have a child.

“From the beginning I did not want to be in a traditional marriage where the man has all control. My 30s brought on a sudden confidence. When I had my son I knew I had to be the person my son would want to have in his life. So I couldn’t be this retiring, quiet person. I wanted to be a strong person so my child could see this is how it is.”

Yasmin has been married for the last 30 years and considers love to be fulfilling.

“Marriage has changed that idealistic view when you’re starting out with somebody that it’s going to be all fun and games and your heart will skip a beat everytime you see that person.

What people need to know is that when you are with the person who is your fit there are things that become very comfortable and easy. I think a relationship cannot be difficult, it must come with great ease. Once you have achieved that, then things work out well.”

Yasmin is very different to her husband in terms of their thinking and ideas, politics often but their foundation of respect for one another and love trumps it all.

It was his outspoken personality that first attracted Yasmin to him as well as his good looks.

“He is funny and out of the box, he is very different to me.”

A day in the life of Yasmin:

Yasmin wakes up early around 5am and listens to the radio to get a head start.

“My day has to start with gym no matter the weather. If I don’t move my body, I don’t feel right. It grounds me and sets the tone for the day.”

Depending on her day plan she then meets with her business partner and friend Cynthia to work on their brand. She is often at home on the couch catching up on Netflix, doing some reading and cooking for her family.

The ultimate goal for her brand SiSi is to grow the brand.

“This year is the year we have to get out of our comfort zone and do something different. They say you can’t keep doing the same things and expect change. What we have in mind is to grow our brand into other areas. “


Cover star: Yasmin Furmie

Editor-in-Chief: Bonnie Meslane @sisboniswa

Photographer: @AustinMalema from @_RTC Studio)

Creative Director: Lesego Kgosimolao @Kgosilesego

Styling: @AdvicebyKgosiLesego

Makeup: @CarolineGreeff

Wardrobe Assistant: Bongiwe Masina

Producer: Bonnie Meslane @sisboniswa


Photography Team:

Lighting: @nkatekomasinga
Digitech: @davidblaq
Assistant: @tshepozitha

No Comments

Leave a reply