In the fast-paced world of fashion, social media has become a driving force in shaping the industry’s landscape, redefining the way brands connect with their audience. The ability to amass a following and curate a distinct online persona has become just as important as walking the runway. A digital fashion connoisseur who is well-versed in this phenomenon is digital fashion content curator, Linda Sumbu.



Linda Sumbu | INSTAGRAM

Popularly known as “it girl energy” on the social media streets, Linda is a well-trusted digital fashion tastemaker. From sharing the latest red carpet and runway looks to letting us in on archival fashion ensembles adorned by various celebrities, Linda keeps online fashionmongers in the loop.


A multifaceted fashion fad, the 25-year-old is also a game developer and a digital artist, pursuing a Masters which is currently focusing on developing fashion video games. We have a chat with Linda Sumbu about her passion for fashion, celebrity style, and more.


When did your passion for fashion begin?

Growing up, I was obsessed with everything fashion-related. I had Barbie and Bratz dolls, those styling books where you stuck clothes stickers on paper dolls, I played fashion video games and tried very hard to learn how to draw clothing as a kid. I also loved all the girly cartoons where clothes and fashion were the focus – it was my obsession for years. Eventually, it died down a bit as a teen but I don’t think it truly ever left me. I still knew about the ins and outs of fashion and the major European brands like Gucci Dior or Roberto Cavalli because my family also knew quite a bit about fashion. I think it was just reignited during my adulthood and truly learned about more of it. Also,  because I have an art degree now, I feel like I must read deeply into anything artistic that I enjoy. Both a blessing and a curse. *Laughs*  I think it has definitely affected my sense of style too because if you saw what I dressed like as a 16 year old? MILES different from what I dress like now.


Linda Sumbu | INSTAGRAM


What drew you to runway fashion in particular, and what do you love most about it? 

I think what draws me in the most is the storytelling behind a runway show. Runway shows are similar to plays in a sense to me – the production, the music, the venue, the models, the makeup and hair of the models, the atmosphere, and of course, the clothes. They all add to the designer’s vision for the clothes. It helps sell the fantasy and the lore of the clothing even more. I think that’s why couture excites me so deeply – designers can go beyond what is “typical” clothing and create things that lean more artistic than anything else. When I was young, I remember seeing shows from Alexander McQueen, John Galliano’s Dior, and more and seeing the theatrics accompany the clothing…it ignited something in me. Obviously, as a child, it was easier to believe that every runway show HAD to be this way or else they were a bit boring. But again I think we all grow up with a bit of a romanticised view of high fashion.


Things are different when you understand the industry more and that classic “typical” clothing also has to be sold and doesn’t necessarily need a massive showing to do so. And I think those shows are still interesting and still part of a bigger storyline – the designer’s story. That’s what keeps me going with runway – it’s a very unique way of telling stories. Growing up and learning more about fashion I also find myself more and more enthralled by the finer details – construction, intention while sewing, sewing styles but I’m very much still learning about all that!

You were invited to the sensational New York Fashion Week’s Autumn/ Winter 2024 showcase. How was that experience? 

It was a dream come true! My first show in New York Fashion Week was Bach Mai Autumn/Winter 2024 and I was ABSOLUTELY so nervous. I did not know what to expect, what runway etiquette was, who to talk to…I felt very much like a fish out of water until the show properly started. That’s when I became blown away by everything. The music, the lighting, the atmospheric fog…all added to the designer’s vision. The show notes explain this better but the futuristic elements mixed with the mid-century silhouettes of the clothes really made for an exciting, enchanted show. I think this was definitely my favourite fashion show thus far. A beautiful mix of everything. A close second was definitely Proenza Schouler Autumn/Winter 2024 due to the intimate setting it had and the beautiful clothes (also breathing the same air as Marc Jacobs, Anna Wintour, Alexa Chung, and Paloma Elsesser also probably had something to do with it. These are fashion ICONS after all).


Linda Sumbu | SUPPLIED

Various celebrities have put their best foot forward for fashion and award shows this year. Who have been some of your best dressed celebrities thus far? Top 3. 

Oh, this is a tough one. If I had to say, my top 3 so far have to be Carey Mulligan at the top for her run for Maestro. Those beautiful timeless and classic looks were INCREDIBLE on her. I think my top 3 from her this year was her vintage Balenciaga look at the Oscars, her Armani Privé look at the SAG Awards and her vintage Schiaparelli look at the Golden Globes.


Carey Mulligan | INSTAGRAM

A close second has to be Zendaya and her amazing Challengers press tour looks – my favourite so far has got to be her custom Jacquemus look in LA as well as her vintage Vivienne Westwood look in London.


Zendaya in custom Maison Margiela at the MET GALA 2024

The third one is definitely Colman I’m a game developer and a digital artist; my Masters is currently focusing on fashion video games (this is the most simple way I can explain it for now). Domingo. Still thinking about his Valentino couture look at the Critics Choice Awards! He definitely shows that you don’t have to wear boring menswear on the red carpet!


Coleman Domingo | INSTAGRAM

How would you describe your personal style?

This is something I’m trying to figure out myself! I don’t think I truly have a style that has a proper name, but there are a lot of cues that make up a typical “Linda” outfit. Lots of off-the-shoulder tops and dresses, strapless as well. V-necks, square necks, and sweetheart necklines. Bootcut jeans and big oversized leather jackets and boots. Also mini bags (bonus if they’re sparkly too). Little white dresses and tiny mini a-line skirts. Corset tops. I love myself some sequins and rhinestones…I’m a little all over the place with my style. I can never decide if I want to look grungy and cool or girly and feminine or partly girl chic. But that’s the cool thing about style – it’s a spectrum and you don’t strictly need to adhere to one side or the other. I could decide to dress business chic tomorrow….who’s gonna stop me? *Laughs* 

Which fashion rule do you swear by? 

JUST WEAR IT. Insecurities are a tough thing to overcome – especially when it comes to fashion. It’s scary to want to try something new when you don’t feel comfortable with your body or things like that. I don’t feel entirely comfortable in mine yet (it’s a learning process) but one thing that I have learned is that life is just way too short to be scared of wearing something. In your head, it may not look that good but to others? You most definitely look as amazing as the outfit looked in your head.


Linda Sumbu | INSTAGRAM

Winter is on the horizon. What is your go-to winter wardrobe staple? 

Black is my go-to for almost everything every winter and I’m a little bored of it – trying to get less into neutrals and black and more into rich browns, maroons, and dark blues and greens this season. I think it’s easy to wear black, the colour isn’t necessarily everyone’s taste, especially during the winter but the whole point of fashion is experimenting. And I think getting started with rich dark colours to introduce more of a colourful palette for the winter is a must this year. Winter fashion doesn’t have to be boring. Get that maroon coat!

There has been significant growth in the local fashion landscape over the past few years. What do you think needs to be improved for South African fashion to have a bigger global appeal? 

This is quite a difficult question to answer but I think that the talent here in South Africa is incredible, filled with stories of here told through beautiful clothing and remarkable craftsmanship. It’s gotten more international attention over the years (see Viviers Studios at Milan Fashion Week). I don’t necessarily think that the clothes themselves have to change in any capacity. The quality of work here just gets better and better each year with so much talent growing here. International recognition isn’t the answer to improve the fashion as it already most definitely appeals to a larger audience, however, I do think that South Africa just like any other country just needs to be recognised as a fashion capital. Big names such as Thebe Magugu or Rich Mnisi are just the tip of the iceberg here, and I think that it shouldn’t take traveling to another country to be recognised as a huge fashion talent internationally. Brands like Shushu Tong show only during Shanghai Fashion Week but are a massively recognised fashion brands nonetheless internationally due to Shanghai being dubbed a fashion capital. Imagine if this type of wider recognition was afforded to Johannesburg or Cape Town – we would see more people (especially celebrities) in local brands overseas.


Linda Sumbu | INSTAGRAM

Which runway fashion trends can we expect to see from celebrities and fashion enthusiasts this Autumn/ Winter season?

I genuinely expect the Boho chic girl to come back in fashion due to Chemena Kamali’s fantastic debut at Chloé. Chloé hasn’t been one of my favourite brands since Stella McCartney’s or Phoebe Philo’s tenure at the brand – but I think this time is the time for the Chloé girl to make a massive comeback into the spotlight. Their bracelet bags especially were my favourite from the show – and I definitely think bracelet bags, in general, will be huge this season. From Chloé to Valentino…they were kind of everywhere this season. This combination of fringe being everywhere, fluffy shawls, wide ruffle shirts, and the western vibe coming back into trend yet again (see Louis Vuitton Menswear aw24 and Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter looks)… I think the Boho chic girl is coming back in full force this Autumn/Winter season and I’m excited to see it!

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