The Power of Mentorship
Fashion has had a ‘gatekeeping’ issue. Historically, the practice of controlling access and opportunities, most often consequencing diversity and inclusivity, has seen both the international and local fashion landscape as a highly competitive, difficult space for young creatives to succeed within. More than ever, we are witnessing a shift in response to this, particularly by younger generations. This is a key aspect of our vision at Lemkus, and it is why we continually seek to expand our community as a site for creativity, collaboration and story-telling.

For our Nike Footscape campaign, celebrating Donna-Lee De Kock’s ascent as one of South Africa’s most important stylists is not only about highlighting her individual success; it's a story about the power of mentorship, representation and fostering talent. As Donna says, “I was part of this mentorship organisation called ‘Releasing Eagles’ and Candice was my mentor and if it wasn’t for that, I might not have known that it was possible to seek better things. Candice encouraged me to dream and see a different pathway for myself.” Releasing Eagles is an organisation that weaves together integrity, collaboration, inspiration and service; connecting mentors with young women, with the intention to facilitate the emergence and expansion of their life purpose. 

Mentorship can play a pivotal role in nurturing emerging fashion talent by providing guidance, support, and invaluable industry insights.

Donna-Lee is an example of this in her expression as a POC-stylist, but also in her past mentorship of young women; who are symbolically represented in the campaign. Donna’s vision is to share her growing wealth of experience and knowledge, enabling mentees to navigate the complex and competitive world of fashion. As Donna says of the kids growing up in her neighbourhood of Bonteheuwel, “there are so many talented people there. There are kids with incredible creativity and ideas.”

It takes a community to assist in the ascension of the creative vision of generations in the future.

Mentorship that provides access is often a game-changer in an industry reliant on relationships and connections, and through Donna-Lee’s own story, we see the manifestation of how mentorship can instil confidence and resilience, a strong work ethic and determination. Donna explains, “right now, I’m doing it in the industry for POC kids wanting to start styling.”