Athabile Bameli, a 22-year-old from King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape, is one of South Africa’s entrepreneurial success stories, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. While he started his clothing brand Armigo in 2018, it was only this year that he started selling clothes.
Bameli told Vutivi News that he started Armigo because of his love for clothing. His mother inspired him to design clothes because she used to sew for him when he was a child. “My mother knows how to sew with her hands and with a sewing machine,” he said. Bameli was captivated by her passion. And when he was in high school, he was already redesigning his clothes, including sewing different fabrics onto his jeans.
In 2017 he decided to join forces with a few of his friends to start their own clothing brand. “On the day we were supposed to launch the brand, I woke up with a lot of different ideas swimming in my head, and I decided there and then that it was a better idea for me to start my own clothing line,” he said. He then went through the process of looking for a suitable name. “I wanted to find a name that would mean that the clothing brand is a brand for everyone. I came up with the name Armigo, which comes from Amigo meaning ‘friend’ in Spanish,” he said.
Bameli currently manufactures T-shirts, bucket hats, jeans, shoes, hoodies and tracksuits at a factory in Cape Town. He said that initially funding was a challenge, which has not disappeared. He intends on approaching government institutions for money. The designer spends a lot of money on manufacturing and wants the funding to make this is easier and more affordable.
“I started and manufactured the clothing brand from my own pocket. I have to date sold not more than 500 units from June.” Most of his customers are from the Eastern Cape and Cape Town. But he also has reach in Johannesburg. “I also want to be able to have my own factory where I can manufacture my clothing from scratch,” he said. “I want to honour the legacy that I inherited from my mother.”