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A conversation with June Sixtheenth

Interview with fashion designer June Sixtheenth by Apolluss

A: So tell us a bit about June Sixtheenth/Nid, if you had to describe yourself, what words would you choose?

JS: Culture, Heritage, Patience, and Isolation.

A: What do you think about the current state of the Manchester arts music and creative scene?

JS: When I moved to Manchester in 2016 (for university), I was loving the vibe and getting to know the city. But then I kind of felt like a lot of Manchester artists were not willing to share their resources. I don't know if it was just the kind of people I was around but I felt a lot of people weren't opening up, specifically in the fashion industry. A lot of people didn't want to share where they get stuff made (manufacturers).

A: Gatekeeping?

JS: Yeah, gatekeeping basically. I feel like (people think) that if they show you how to do a specific thing, then you will take away their customers. But I feel like in a sense, you know, the table is so big within fashion that we can all share our space and allow ourselves to create. I have always held the word (ubuntu) close to my heart. It means I am who I am because of those who have come before me. It's all about sharing your space. I don't think that holding on to the contacts that I have (gatekeeping) is going to benefit me. Whether that's through music, design, or art. I am in the space that I am right now because of it.

A: From my experiences in Cuba, I realise the ability to pass things down is what keeps culture going. If you don't pass it down then there will be a certain point where that culture will end because nobody will know how to carry it on. Being able to pass down the flame for someone else to carry on that flame. I think that's the way community should exist and what community should be.

JS: That's why I feel like with my brand, I am into couture, artisan things. With my brand, I take my time with it because I know what I am putting in. It's not something that you can just make in a day and then a week later you have to think of something else. It stays. It's timeless basically. The skills that I put into my clothing take time. I just put in the work and allow it to live in the world.

A: What's your journey to becoming a fashion designer and how did that start?

JS: I did my Fashion Design course at the University of Salford, I graduated in 2019 and came back in 2020 for my Masters but I dropped out halfway. I have just been in an up and down kind of situation, just trying to make sure I am mentally healthy. When I was growing up, I didn't have a lot of friends so I spent a lot of time either with myself or my brother. I was in South Africa growing up. I wouldn't say I was poor because I lived in the suburbs and went to a private school but I still didn't have a lot of friends. I used to spend a lot of time by myself. I used to make buildings out of mud and I used to make perfumes by pounding flowers and putting water in them. The smell would change after that.

A: I used to do that when I was younger (concerning building things and making perfume with flowers and water)

JS: Yeah, I was always creative just doing something, basically trying to keep my mind busy. Spending time by myself gave me the freedom to think. I did high school and college in the UK (Warrington) before moving to Manchester. I was going to do architecture but then I was walking past a classroom in college in Warrington and I saw some garments on a mannequin. I spent about 5 minutes looking at them was like, 'if that was me, I would do this and change that'. I thought I was saying it in my head but I was saying it out loud and a tutor who was teaching textiles walked past and heard me. She suggested that I do textiles. The year after I took the course. I was the only boy there just enjoying myself, doing my thing. At the same time, I realised I was walking my path and my purpose. Clothing is a part of my culture as a Xhosa (South African tribe) man and for me, I just like looking good. I don't go with the trend. I try to step away from the trend and like to stand out from it.

A: KERB prides itself on displaying a diverse selection of labels on their wine, if you were a bottle of wine, what would you taste like and how would your label look?

JS: My label will probably be a drop of blood, just like drops of blood.

A: Can you expand on why?

JS: Just like through my initiation and stuff? My Xhosa initiation (Ulwaluko: traditional South African initiation from childhood to adulthood), every drop that I dropped throughout my initiation, was a way of releasing my past, and releasing trauma or whatever issues. At the same time, it was preparation for the future. I feel like by going through my initiation, and anyone who happens to be reading this, if you research the Xhosa Ulwaluko tribal initiation, then you will understand more about it. For me, it was like every drop, every drop of blood was like a cleansing. I knew where I came from but I didn't know where I was going and so I was accepting of it. I was open about it. I feel like I was naked and stuff, and I was vulnerable. So now in every situation that I go into, whether I've lost money, whether I've worked with people that have taken advantage of me, I go in there very open and I present myself. So for me, every single person I meet is a good person until they show me otherwise.

A: I agree. Are there any other artists/creatives in Manchester that you would like to utilise this opportunity to highlight?

JS: Myno (@silpaclo). The reason why I say Myno is because I feel like he takes his time to understand who he is, and what he is trying to put out. We went to the same university, and I used to see how he would interact with people. He is a very humble and calm guy. He has that sense of 'I know what I want' basically, for him, he would prefer to take the longer road than the quicker route. That is what I respect about him.

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