Spaces Magazine

Creative crush: Zaid Philander of I Scream & Red

Jun 23, 2016


Cape Town-based designer and entrepreneur Zaid Philander is changing the world “one stitch at a time”.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for *tune twist*… I Scream & Red. This month we put the creative spotlight on the man behind the delicious designs of planet-friendly bag company I Scream & Red.

Apart from the designs being unmistakably stylish and compact, I Scream & Red bags are all made from recycled materials – including seat belts, used car and home upholstery, and old fabric sample books – as part of a commitment to promote a greener, cleaner planet. The additional materials needed for making the bags also have the green stamp of approval, comprising strictly of organic cottons. And if that’s not considered an altruistic act in itself, the company also trains, empowers and employs people from previously and presently disadvantaged communities as well as those with disabilities.

ZP01 Planet-friendly fashion: I Scream & Red's droopy rucksacks.

Without further ado, we quiz Zaid Philander about his company and his love for colour.

I started I Scream & Red in late 2008 after my first year of study. At the time I was merely selling and making bags for friends and family.

I’d describe my designs as purposeful, street-style and casual. We aim to unite people through what they wear.

My work is inspired by the people I teach and work with. Training people with disabilities and from disadvantaged communities may, on the outside, seem like a simple social project, but the truth is that every bag we make is inspired by them. They bring elements of happiness, resilience and self-confidence that allow us to work together to create products that will bring our customers the exact same feelings.

My most colourful design would probably be one of our stout bags made from recycled seat belts and quilted sample fabrics that I collected over a few months. My most colourful possession would be my Mandala colouring book – it’s a calming pastime.


I Scream & Red's stout noir backpacks.

Production time for one single bag depends on the type of bag, but our most intricate ones can take up to 4 hours of labour and the simplest ones could be made in just 10 minutes!

All our materials are sourced within the vicinity of production so that we don’t contribute to unnecessary carbon emissions through travelling and imports. We find our fabric in Cape Town. Most of it comes from upholsterers who rework old furniture – we buy the fabric from them instead of it going to landfills. We source the seat belts from car pounds, and the sample books from local fabric suppliers. We also use flags, which we get from the City of Cape Town and event companies.

My current colour crush is red. Always was, always will be.

Growing up as a little boy in Woodstock who only wanted to sew but was told that it is no job for him because of his gender and age, I didn’t have many options or the support to carry on. “But colour, fabric and sewing are what I have always loved, so I used this passion to remind me that there is a bigger world out there. For me, colour was my liberation to a sewing world that I always knew I would one day pursue.

ZP04 "Foldsies upsies" for the little ones.

Bag trends for winter 2016… Bags are quite utilitarian, so trends are difficult to predict, as their function lasts way longer than the aesthetic for a season. But I can definitely see lots of mixed tartan checks and heavy, dark fabrics – blends of dark denims and greys.

What’s next for I Scream & Red?

Bags made by South Africans for South Africans – we’re trying to make planet-friendly goods more accessible. One way in which we’re doing this is through a training centre for our differently abled staff. We’re also in the process of training more makers so we can set them up with their own home-based sewing businesses. We would like to move away from line production and go back to the artisanal way of making goods. Beside that, a lot of exciting work is in the pipeline, but we can’t give everything away just yet!

For more info email