22-year-old Tshego Mosiane better known as ‘Red, is a freelance fashion writer, curator, director, producer and Founder of REconnecteD TV and has dedicated her life to creating the kind of quality, authentic and unique fashion content we so desperately need in South Africa.
Many of you may know Red from her trending fashion critique threads on Twitter but her fashion knowledge goes far beyond that with her website and is successful REconnecteD channel on Youtube.
We got in touch with the fashion connoisseur in the making to find out more about what she has been up to lately, as she gears up for the Zanzibar International Film Festival taking place mid-July. This will be Red’s 7th international showcase, while other projects on her channel have shown at film festivals in Bosnia, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Italy.
“I have quite a few projects in the pipeline this year. As someone who is self-taught, I am always looking to learn more in the process of everything I take on. With each project I feel growth in my skill set and knowledge base, this is my focus for 2018. To do more but also get better as I go along,” Red said.
South Africa is known as the melting pot of possibility and opportunity in Africa. However, Red believes that the country’s fashion scene has somewhat lagged in growth and sustainability compared to the rest of the continent if not the world.
“I believe our current fashion “scene” is exactly that: a scene. A fragmented, dizzy scene with little direction. Don’t get me wrong, we have immense talent that is finally gaining more visibility. Other countries in Africa, like Ethiopia, are doing a far better job at organizing themselves as an industry to increase their overall growth. If you’re paying attention, there are more concrete decisions being implemented with both private and public support. That’s what we are lacking. The industry in South Africa – and I’m sure a lot of other countries may relate too – has a lot of potential and is making strides but it seems to me the lack of uniformity is what is holding us back,” she said.
Everybody is trying to be a content producer and starting a YouTube channel, but only the real passionate ones and authentic content makers last and make an impact, and we are not talking about just for the culture. This is how people like Red have managed to survive and reap the rewards of their hard work.
“I make it a point to produce unique content to the local and international fashion media landscape. The same thing with my contributions to local publications as a writer and even my infamous threads that get me in trouble. Whether I’ve always been conscious to it or not, I just make work that I can’t really find elsewhere and take it from there,” she said.
This is true with Red’s web series SUBS, which looks into African fashion subcultures that showcase conversations about how the subculture in question has or hasn’t impacted the subject’s style. “I came up with the idea back in high school when I realized how limited people’s understanding of subculture is. I hope to be able to explore an even wider variety but we need funding for that,” Red said.
Red’s more recent web series is Festival Politicos, which she collaborated with Misa Narrates born from complaining about how fickle festival fashion coverage is and grew from there to a series exploring the politics behind festival fashion.
The rise of social media has made many conversations more accessible and engaging, whether they are taboo or not. However, not all of them are constructive. Red believes that they need to have more purpose and structure, for meaningful dialogues to happen.
“All the conversations we have on Black Twitter weekly need to be formalized and the end consensus being put into action. The fact that they are happening online means they are happening in offices around the water cooler. So, the issue is how long it is taking to formally follow due process and actively make lasting changes in the industry. We need to stop being reactive to what is trending and proactively identify our very many weak points – racial discrimination, elitism, corruption, etc – to strengthen our foundation. I think a good way to start is an honest open conversation on why this hasn’t happened yet,” Red said.
Red hopes to continue to build platforms and a brand that people can trust. “I want each episode you watch to offer a different perspective on African fashion,” she said.
“I wasn’t sure we’d make it past a year at some point so I literally take this on a week by week basis. But, hopefully, REconnecteD as a platform will have grown to reach wider audiences around the world and as production company will have grown to be able to employ other creatives of colour,” Red continued.
As the Zanzibar Film Festival looms around the corner, she said winning would be vindicating and validate her point of view with what she brings to the table had she not fought for her space and let her voice be heard.
“To be fair, the fact that I am nominated TWICE in one category already does that. I think people write off how the industry strips you of your uniqueness and call that growth but to me that’s part of why we are stuck. Look at the people our country actually listen to and validate with opportunities past assisting or interning in fashion, rarely is it a person under the age of 25. And it isn’t because younger people aren’t capable of contributing valid ideas but rather because they are also not allowed to access spaces to develop their natural skills until after they’ve been watered down to be palatable to the lowest common denominator. I am so grateful I have been fortunate enough to meet editors, mentors, etc who have allowed me that growing space without excluding me but not everyone is that lucky,” she said.
Red continues to surprise with her talent and vision, which she translates visually for us all to devour, share and engage with. Although Red said her concepts come from complaining, but all for a good reason of wanting to see quality content and lack of diverse and interesting content for us to consume, she has managed to use her voice for good and not waiting for people to do something.
“It’s in my nature to complain… a lot. I notice a lot of things that irk me in this industry and fashion media in particular. I’ve never been one to shy away from vocalizing my frustration but as I grow and learn I realize that I can’t just complain, you know? So, I take my complaints as a point of departure and build a concept from that. Sometimes it’s by myself, often it is aided by the conversations I have with other creatives who share my sentiments but from different perspectives. And I aim to create work that would shut someone like me up one complaint at a time,” Red said.