Andile Cele is the definition of a self-made man. Born and raised in Durban, the 32 year old artist entrepreneur is the founder of Designer Original Products Enterprise (DOPE), a lifestyle brand that covers both fashion and footwear. The brand first made its mark as a boutique-style streetwear and sneaker store, named DOPEstore, with locations in Durban and Johannesburg. Andile was quickly recognised as a talent in the industry, and his ingenuity has paid off. He has collaborated with Grasshopper, an iconic South African footwear brand, and as of 2015, a showcase from DOPE has become a regular highlight of South African Fashion Week.
It began when he saw room in the marketplace for ready-to-wear sports luxe clothing with a home-grown African twist. Using his flair for design, and a keen eye for fresh, modern styles, he brought his vision to life. It’s no small-scale project either; in just 7 years, Andile has successfully launched 5 individual lines under the DOPE brand. There’s DOPEorange, which features streetwear influenced by hip-hop and youth culture; DOPEwhite, a trendy collection that incorporates modern tastes; DOPEblack, an experimental line with a more formal feel; DOPEplus comprises quality leather goods; and DOPEhomme, which uses luxe materials to set tomorrow’s trends. Each line possesses it’s own striking blend of fashion sensibility.
Since its inception, DOPEstore has evolved into a culture hub, proving that it has always been a case of lifestyle driven by art. Never shying away from showing off its African roots, DOPEstore hosts a monthly event called DOPEisCulture, which celebrates and promotes creativity and artistry in fashion, music and culture. It’s easy to see how Andile has ensured the brand remains ahead of the game, because he continues to keep DOPE firmly in touch with the frontlines of fashion culture. Consider the man a style curator.
Making such waves in the industry will get you noticed. The Grasshopper footwear brand is another South African success story, so it made sense for the two to work together. As a fan of the brand, Andile recognised the timeless quality of the their footwear. His work alongside Grasshopper involves him adding his own twist to some of their styles he personally selected. It’s bound to be buzzworthy. Another milestone for the DOPE brand came in 2015, with its first ever showing at South African Fashion Week. Having since returned to the event, their most recent appearance at the country’s premier fashion exhibition saw DOPE sticking to their trademark authenticity, by using influential figures from the street fashion scene rather than models. Audiences were treated to pieces from the various sub-labels, and the glowing reviews confirmed that there are big things to come from Andile’s DOPE brand. For those with even the slightest interest in fashion and creativity, he’s the man to watch.