GaTsh Fros: Chasing the fashion dream

We look at fashion as an art to our own bodies as the canvas, and the sense of style we develop along the way is simply our masterpiece. PIC: RAEES ABDOOLA
We look at fashion as an art to our own bodies as the canvas, and the sense of style we develop along the way is simply our masterpiece. PIC: RAEES ABDOOLA

In the beginning their parents never liked their unusual passion for fashion. The parents saw it as a costly obsession and wanted their beautiful daughters to be like other girls who aspire to land eight-to-five jobs and lead a ‘normal life’. But these ‘fros’ harboured unconventional fashion dreams.

At school they spent their meagre student stipend on clothes and fashionable accessories. Fashion was, and is still their passion.

One day in 2011, while they were on those [window] shopping sprees and admiring shops and wishing they could own one, at Gaborone Game City shopping mall to be precise, somewhere next to that chic fashion shop called Foschini, they received their epiphany. 

It was on that mall alley that they birthed the GaTsh Fros.

Meet Gaone Mothibi and Tsholofelo Dikobe the co-founders of GaTsh Fros. GaTsh (pronounced ‘gash’) is an acronym derived from their first names, while ‘Fros’ is from the Afrikaans word ‘vrou’ meaning a woman.  Arts & Culture caught up with the duo at a Gaborone eatery to hear about their fashion journey.  They say they did not just come into fashion to be part of the industry, but rather they brought their own trailblazing style. Mothibi explains, “We began as ‘Fashion Nerds’ and our style was to mix and miss rather than mix and match”.  And Dikobe takes cue, “We’re non-conformists. We break the rules. When we entered the industry we called ourselves ‘the Goddesses of mix and miss’.”  They created a Facebook page and started a blog, initially to push their passion, they say.

“We were just sharing our passion by sharing and uploading the fashionable stuff that we loved, which we found elsewhere on the Internet,” says Mothibi. Dikobe adds, “Nowadays were are a business. We have transformed our passion into a going concern”.

They swiftly moved from identifying themselves as ‘fashion nerds’ to a much more respectable ‘fashion artists’ because, as Dikobe puts it, “We look at fashion as an art, our own bodies as the canvas, and the sense of style we develop along the way is simply our masterpiece”.

Within a short time their pioneering vintage or retro look coupled with the power of the Internet catapulted GaTsh Fros to the global fashion industry.  “We were chosen together with 11 other Africans to attend the Mercedes Benz Berlin Fashion Week 2013 after they saw our unique form of style through our blog and Facebook,” says Dikobe. Mothibi was however, unable to travel to Germany because she was on maternity leave. From Berlin the duo fashionistas became the new ‘It’ in the international fashion circles. They received numerous international features from high profile glossy fashion magazines.  They graced the pages of Elle SA Magazine, New African Woman - where Dikobe also known as The Khoi-Fro, debuted as the first Motswana woman to be the cover girl, Marie Claire, Afroelle Magazine, True Love Magazine, GeneAfrique as “Africa’s next biggest fashion it stylist”, and Glamour Magazine. They also made it into the leading fashion blogs such as Fashion Interview with Fashion bomb daily, House of Maliq (Nigeria) Online magazine as the ‘fashionistas of the week’, The 4Aces Date USA, and in Vogue UK for “Today I am Wearing Star”.

They sing praises for The Voice Editor, Emang Bokhutlo, for giving them their biggest break with an opportunity of writing a fashion column in the weekly tabloid. 

But their real validation they say came three years since their epiphany, when they were awarded the coveted 2014 Innovative Designers of the Year at the Africa Fashion Week in London UK. The award was for their debut collection called ‘Kobo Mogagolwane’.  The collection made from the material of the famous Tswana shawl called mogagolwane in vernacular. Last weekend these Fros turned heads and many requested pictures with them at the annual Son of the Soil cultural festival with their striking mogagolwane outfits.

They say the aim of Mogagolwane collection is, “to promote cultural dialogue, sustainable ethnical products that have meaning and encourage an important part of the culture used in ceremonial events, as the symbols depicted meaning and ritual to those using the blanket”.

The GaTsh Fros say they chose mogagolwane because it is deeply embedded in the Setswana culture, since it is an integral garment of every traditional occasion and a status symbol. In Setswana tradition mothers wear mogagolwane during traditional baby-showers and married women during traditional weddings are identified by it, as well as during various initiation ceremonies. Even during funerals Batswana women don mogagolwane. It is in the backdrop of such significance that the duo fashion artists chose mogagolwane to be their first line of collection. 

“We would lead the transformation to make mogagolwane a fashion staple for Botswana’s fashion industry,” Dikobe explained. This is an audacious dream to lead change from relying on ‘animal skins’ as supposed Botswana garment. Although it has already scooped an award in the UK, Mogagolwane collection is yet to be launched locally. GaTsh Fros say they are still battling to raise funds to ‘properly’ launch the line in Botswana.

They told to Arts & Culture that the soon-to-be launched line has seven categories namely: Ngwao Tlholego, which is a presidential wear; Gobopaone for the elderly; Bogosi Phatle (Seriti for women and Bogosi for men) which is a leopard print and goat skin blazers for regal wear; Mohumagadi for the classy women; Sego sa Metsi for bridal wear; Pelana for children and Lore le o Jwa which are customised blazers, jackets, ponchos, trench coats for the youth.

Apart from being award-winning designers and fashion journalists, GaTsh Fros do a number of fashion related services.

They provide fashion styling or wardrobe consulting to individuals be it TV personalities, politicians, models, socialites and company promotions like advertising campaigns.

They are ecstatic and optimistic about 2015 and believe that this will be the year that their vision of producing and selling a high quality collection with an international acclaim would be realised.  They say this time their parents are fully behind their dream.

Editor's Comment
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