“Every student is worthy of being celebrated.” These designers sew pride for matriculants

The hall is decorated with bright streamers. Pop music fills the room, beckoning people to dance. Young students adorned in custom-made gowns take the hand of their well-dressed dates.
In South Africa, a matric dance is the first time many pupils are made to feel special. But not all can afford the occasion. This was apparent to design duo Fagin Hardine and Adri Andrews of Paarl. Wanting to provide for the youth of their community, they decided to honour the final-year students in style.

Hardine and Andrews founded their clothing brand, Ke’lab, in 2017. After noticing a number of matriculants were unable to purchase their own outfits, the small business joined forces with The Giving Hand to establish The Matric Drive. “By designing for these students, we’re able to create beautiful and long-lasting memories,” Hardine says. Sketching, stitching, and hemming away, the team gifted garments to hard-working matriculants. “It’s more than just a gown,” Andrews says. “It’s a celebration of academic achievement.”