BTech Fashion and Textile Designer, Alexandra van Heerden (23), graduated from the Durban University of Technology, in 2021, where she received Cum Laude and the Dean’s Merit Award for Academic Excellence as the top achieving student for both her National Diploma and Bachelor of Technology in Fashion and Textile Design. Founded in 2020, the brand name Vanklan originates from Alexandra’s surname amalgamated with the word ‘klan’, meaning organisation.

In 2019, Alexandra won the Judges Award at the annual Durban University of Technology graduate fashion show, with her collection featuring her show-stopping jacket which consisted of 38 BunnyKats – each made from recycled textiles by the ladies at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust to raise funds – hand stitched onto it. She enjoys using items that are not normally deemed fashion worthy to challenge the norm of our rigid society. Using bold colours combined with her eccentric and playful aesthetic, Vanklan has developed and successfully presented its own sustainable fashion practice which not only pushes boundaries, but also reflects the diversity and uniqueness of our Rainbow Nation.

In 2020 Vanklan won the TWYG Student Award for the collection made from old pillowcases and other thrifted items from the Kloof & Highway SPCA which were created to address and challenge the throwaway culture present in our society.