Sometimes you meet a person that makes an impact on your life from the moment you meet them. We follow fashion designer Shukrie Joel’s journey of experimentation, practical learning and travelling.
Aside from being a likeable person, Shukrie Joel is a designer with international experience, having travelled and worked in many cities and up until last year, was residing in Montreal, when he decided to move back to Cape Town with his little family.
Shukrie is the designer and owner of the brand called i and i, based at the studio above Corner Store. His work speaks volumes and is more of an art than trying to get stock out in masses. He does not base his work in seasons, but rather takes his time to work on individual pieces, putting every effort into the quality and practicality of the garment.
“I was always complaining that I had no one to work with or collaborate with. I had a talk with my wife and then I thought, I and I would be perfect because it’s me and you, we get to combine forces to collaborate and create something interesting. It’s not about me, it’s not about you. It’s about what we can achieve together”.
Originally from P.E, Shukrie grew up in his father’s tailoring shop sewing loops for pants as fun, learning the basics of tailoring and quality of workmanship. With these fundamental skills instilled in him, it was only natural that Shukrie would want to enter the world of fashion.
He moved down to Cape Town in 1990, fresh out of high school with no clue of where to start looking for work and not wanting to waste time studying.
“If you come from a small city, the ideal is always to move to a bigger city in search of bigger opportunities”.
After moving to Cape Town, Shukrie ended up doing a short course in pattern making, leading to his lecturer recognising his talent and asking him to work with her. He ended up at a major sportswear brand factory, heading the pattern making department, not knowing what the hell he was doing.
He dove into the deep end and winged it along, spending his breaks in the sewing room asking the ladies how everything worked and eventually ended up sewing through lunch.
With no other tertiary education behind him, he had now gathered enough skills to work on his own and do what he wanted to do.
“This is my education level. But you know what. It instilled a level of confidence within me.”
He left for London in 1996 and started working as a garment technologist and designer for fashion brand Iggi Mfg. Because his work was seasonal, he started a label on the side with his business partner Shegeto Ikeno called Shh Worldwide, buying crew necks in bulk and screen printing them in his apartment.
One of his proud moments was when the owner of Colette approached Shh Worldwide and bought their sweatshirts to stock at her store.
In 2003, Shukrie came back to Cape Town and decided to open up a boutique concept store called District 26, stocking his own label and brands like Chloe and Puma stock that was rare at the time. Things did not work out for the store and it closed down in 2006.
In the years following the closing down of the store, Shukrie got married and moved to Montreal, Canada, freelancing as a stylist and doing wardrobe.
When asked about which designers inspire him, he says “I love old school designers from the 80s like Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, Martin Margiela, as well as african and eastern design”.
His style shows hints of military inspiration and the fabrics he works with are bought with sustainability at the forefront; he uses a lot of pure hemp cotton fabrics that is durable and completely wearable, with lots of focus on ergonomically functional clothing.
I and i is stocked at Les ´Etoffes in Montreal.