Serena’s baby set for ace in locally made shweshwe outfit

Port Elizabeth business entrepreneur, Paula Jones, who designs and sells maternity wear online has designed an exclusive shweshwe outfit for Grand Slam tennis star, Serena Williams’ baby girl. The tennis legend broke the Internet in April when she revealed she was 20 weeks pregnant, and gave birth to her bonny babe on Friday 1 September at St Mary’s Medical Center, West Palm Beach in Florida.

The gorgeous two-piece baby outfit is made from one of the original, chocolate, Three-Cats shweshwe prints and features a tennis racket and ball motif in shweshwe on a white T-shirt, with matching shorts in the same print.

At present local Da Gama Textiles based in Zwelitsha, King Williams Town, is perhaps the only known producer of traditional Indigo Dyed Discharge Printed Fabric in the world.

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Jones will be sending the garment to the tennis star’s agent in the USA, and if there is a demand for more, can produce them in just one to two weeks, and is able to include motifs of other sports as well.

Shweshwe‘, a stiff cotton fabric thought to have originated in India, took off in SA when German settlers in the mid 1800s introduced the fabric to Xhosa women, who fell in love with it and made it their own

Some say the fabric was given the name ‘shweshwe’ as that’s the sound you hear when Xhosa women walk past in their traditional dresses.

Others say the name derives from King Moshoeshoe I, King of the Basotho, who was given the indigo fabric as a gift from the French missionaries in the 1840s.

The typical use of the fabric is for traditional ceremonies in the rural areas, thus ensuring a constant demand for this particular fabric.

Asked about the initiative behind the idea, Jones said, “I was looking for a way in which to incorporate shweshwe, a fabric produced in the beautiful Eastern Cape, into my baby wear range to make a garment that the international market could also appreciate. It was at this stage that I found Serena’s pregnancy announcement on my Instagram feed, and I knew that I wanted to send her a baby outfit that was exclusively South African.

“I’ve always admired Serena’s drive and determination, and how despite being at the top of her game and an international star, she still makes time to give back to needy communities. She’s also known for her unusual and colourful outfits, on and off the tennis court, and is the ideal person to send African-inspired wear to, she is not afraid to embrace her own unique style. I’m hoping her baby will also have that unusual flair.”

Jones, a working mom of four teens, started designing and selling maternity wear online in 2016. She began supplying the online fashion retailer, Zando, at the end of 2016 and recently expanded the range to include baby wear and accessories in mid 2017.

For more information or to order visit her website https://penelopeandbella.com/