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Launching South Africa's first modest activewear brand - Breethe

Being active isn’t just good for your physical well-being, but for your mental health as well.

While there are many ways to stay fit, many people love the option of going to the gym.
However, deciding what to wear to the gym can be daunting for many people-especially those who are just starting out. Whether you’re on a weight-loss journey or simply want to get in shape, comfort is key when working out.
You want to feel comfortable in your gym wear in order to perform at your best but you also need to feel confident within yourself.
Many people are put off from going to the gym because they don’t want to expose their bodies by wearing tight and revealing activewear, sold at most sportswear shops.
It’s especially challenging for those who for religious reasons need to be covered up and dress in modestly.
While popular international sports brands like Nike, Puma and Adidas now all have modest activewear ranges in their collections, modest activewear that’s specifically produced for the South African market did not exist until recently.
Identifying this gap in the market, data scientist turned serial entrepreneur Zaheeda Duduzile Chauke, was inspired to start her own proudly South African brand called Breethe Modest Activewear.
"Breethe Modest Activewear is for Muslim women, and all women who prefer to have extra-coverage clothing while being physically active," said the 30-year-old mother of one.
"We also pride ourselves in being curve friendly, as activewear should be accessible to women of all body types."
Chauke calls herself a serial entrepreneur because she solves problems and fill gaps that she faces in her everyday life.
The idea for the modest activewear came about when she started going to the gym two years ago.
"For years, I had delayed getting fit due to not having anything to wear that would cover me adequately according to my Islamic beliefs. This delay led to a major hormonal imbalance, 30kg weight gain and poor mental health."
"Today, I wear Breethe daily at the gym. I've since become a powerlifter (with a 155kg deadlift). Training has become a lifestyle - something I do not only to be healthy but because I enjoy it while being draped in my Hijab," says the businesswoman.
"Our collection this season is active dress designs that come in knee-length and longer calf-length options that have a signature tulip skirt design that maximises movement without compromising on coverage.
"The dress features come with the tulip skirt design for free movement, thumb holes to keep sleeves from slipping, a half-zip mock neck for comfort and ventilation and a side pocket for phones and smaller items," she said of her first collection.
She sources the fabric from a factory in Cape Town.
"The garments are locally produced. After numerous manufacturing hurdles, we decided to develop our own in-house manufacturing from our premises. This made our operating processes much easier and more cost-effective," says Chauke.
Being a woman in a cut-throat industry comes with it’s own set of challenges, and Chauke shared some insights for other women who want to start their own business.
"The advice I’d give to women in business is to have grit, patience and not give up despite the hurdles that may come. I believe 90% of entrepreneurship is problem-solving with the goal being to reap the rewards later down the line.
"I’d advise us, women in business, to avoid burnout and the ‘superwoman-syndrome’ by prioritising our mental health and well-being, and to also be introspective enough to seek help when we need it."
"I’ve also learned that as entrepreneurs of all genders, emotionally detaching ourselves from our businesses and focusing on being objective when making business decisions, decreases stress levels and smoothens our arduous journey to success."
"My biggest advice yet would be realizing that as women in business, we do not have to be the same as men for us to be seen as their equals in our respective Industries.
"As women, we have distinctive qualities that I believe make us stand out and excel in male-dominated industries. Our female brain is our power, it’s our USP (Unique Selling Point) in business, we can use our differences from men as tools to empower ourselves and as an advantage to further our entrepreneurship goals."
Visit their website for more details: www.breethe.co.za

About The Author

Experienced Public Relations Specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry.

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