From Eastern Cape to Cape Town: Esethu Cenga’s Rewoven Journey Toward Sustainable Fashion

Esethu Cenga‘s journey from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town has been a vibrant blend of personal growth, academic rigor, and entrepreneurial spirit. Having moved to Cape Town in 2013 to study at the University of Cape Town, Esethu’s curiosity and passion for positive change quickly propelled her into the forefront of addressing socioeconomic challenges through innovative solutions. As a student, her involvement with the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation sharpened her focus on value creation and creative problem-solving, especially in the context of South Africa’s diverse challenges.

While studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE), Esethu began to see the interconnectedness of Africa’s socio-economic issues within a global context. Her studies in Development Economics further highlighted the importance of innovation and sustainability in creating a thriving future for the continent. This academic foundation, combined with her passion for social impact, drove her to co-found Rewoven in 2017, alongside Tshepo Bhengu and Lonwabo Mgoduso. The startup aims to address one of the fashion industry’s pressing issues: textile waste.

Rewoven, currently in its commercial pilot phase, is designed to divert textile waste from landfills and extend the lifecycle of garments by facilitating their reuse and recycling. The startup’s audacious goal is to recycle and manufacture 100% recycled fabrics from textile waste, creating a circular economy within the fashion industry. Through this project, Esethu and her co-founders hope to revolutionize the fashion landscape in South Africa, offering an innovative solution that addresses both environmental and social concerns.

But Esethu’s commitment to sustainable fashion doesn’t stop there. She also co-founded Future of Fashion, a two-day fashion indaba that takes place every November. The indaba serves as a platform for stakeholders in the clothing industry to collaborate on solutions that promote a thriving, ethical, and future-fit African fashion sector. The event offers a rich mix of exhibitions, films, masterclasses, keynote addresses, and peer-to-peer discussions. It also features a marketplace to support local fashion businesses, with a focus on those that prioritize sustainability.

Esethu Cenga’s journey from the Eastern Cape to becoming a driving force in Cape Town’s sustainable fashion scene is a testament to her dedication, creativity, and commitment to making a meaningful impact. Her work with Rewoven and Future of Fashion demonstrates how one person’s passion can lead to significant change, inspiring others to rethink and reshape the future of the fashion industry.

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