Punk fashion – an interview with Tayla Burgess

Updated: May 6

by Jade Rhode

Marc Jacobs, Gert Johan Coetzee, Diane Von Furstenberg; each of these iconic designers have a backstory. They were once emerging fashion designers intending to expand their brand. Local designer, Tayla Burgess, has that same goal and more.


Tayla Burgess is a 25-year-old designer with a unique style. She has a diploma in Fashion Design from the Cape Town College of Fashion Design (CTCFD) and was named 2019’s Student of the Year. She is currently working towards completing her Advanced Diploma in Fashion Design from the same fashion college. Read the interview below to find out more about this emerging designer.

What sparked your interest in fashion? I was constantly reading fashion magazines and I am interested in fashion journalism. This eventually led to an interest in designing and garment construction.

What is your definition of the term “fashion”? Fashion is an all-encompassing term. Yes, it refers to the clothes but also style, the attitudes, and emotions that come with dressing, designing or creating. It's what you want to say with your clothes, with your style.

How would you describe your style? I mainly look at Japanese and Korean street style, as well as elements of punk and grunge.

Besides being a designer, are there any other career paths you would like to pursue? Pursuing fashion academia and becoming a fashion design lecturer is a goal of mine. So currently, I am a research assistant and tutor at CTCFD. Getting an article or two published is something I’d also like to try.

How do you feel tutoring/working at the same fashion college you’ve graduated from? It’s pretty good. Everyone is super encouraging and helpful; plus, I know the standards of work the college expects. That’s made transitioning to tutoring helpful. In all, it’s been a good experience so far. Favourite article of clothing and why? A classic leather biker jacket. I just always feel like my look is finished off perfectly with one. It’s also super versatile. It can be worn for any occasion or season.

You have a graduate collection. What is the name of your collection and the inspiration behind it?

My graduate collection is “Patriarchy Is Primitive”. It uses cyberpunk as a point of inspiration for the aesthetic. As well as the story behind it [is] if women formed a rebellion against patriarchal systems in a technologically advanced dystopian future, this is what I see them wearing.


A design from Taylor's graduate collection reading "Patriarchy is Primitive"

What impact will your brand have on society? My brand Subculture is for those who have a more alternative style –non-discriminatory and non-conformist. I would like those who wear my brand to reflect those values and be proud of their authentic selves. What role do you think social media plays in the fashion industry today? I think social media has certainly broadened the fashion industry. Before, we were largely dependent on print media and experts in the industry to inform us about fashion. Now, anyone can claim to know something about fashion and influence a market from the comfort of their bedrooms.


Emerging brands are now able to get their work out there much easier than before, not having to rely on physical spaces. Fashion companies have also had to become a lot more transparent as it's easier for their customers to pick up anything shady. There are advantages and disadvantages to social media, in any industry. Who are your top three favourite designers/brands? Is there a reason for your choices? I’ve never really had favourite designers or brands. I’ve always enjoyed looking more at street styles. But if I had to choose three, I’d choose Dilara Findikoglu, Dr. Martens and Yohji Yamamoto.

Image from @Subculture_brand1 on Instagram

What advice would you give to young designers? I really love what you're designing and creating. If you’re not excited about it, what’s the point?

What would you like to achieve before the end of 2020? Right now, I'm busy with my second collection. I’m hoping that I love it and enjoy it as much as my first one.

Finally, where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? After finishing my Advanced Diploma, my goal is to eventually get to my Masters in Fashion Design. Other than that, I see myself teaching, traveling and hopefully growing my brand. From being a student to becoming a tutor, it’s safe to say that Tayla is making her dream her reality. Follow her Instagram accounts @tay.burgess1 and @subculture_brand1 to view her journey.

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