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Yasmin Furmie: The golden age

Yasmin Furmie’s life has been a series of change: by the age of 26, she had moved continents three times. By 36, she had a career in modelling and social work under her belt – and two kid son her hips. By 56, she had just been established as one of SA’s fashion icons. And at 66? Not even she can tell… 

If she could go back, Yasmin Furmie would tell her 21-year-old self: life gets better. Why? Because the failures, judgement, criticism and self-doubt will be well worth the self-confidence and contentment that lies on the other side. 

“What I love about being 61 right now is the confidence . I give zero fucks,” she chuckles. “This means I will not compromise on my beliefs and principles. What I say is thought-out and I believe it reflects who I am. But you can’t get to this stage without passing life’s hurdles, though. That’s the reason we go through these things in life: it’s so that we can get here and say: ‘I’m okay with where I am, who I am and how I am’.” 

This infectious authenticity is what caught people’s attention 10 years ago, when Yasmin started ‘SiSi.The.Collection‘ with her best friend and fashion designer Cynthia Allie. Although Yasmin had no fashion experience, the pair launched a clothing brand, which reflected their personal style and ethos to create something they would want to wear. They wanted to know their clothes were being made without a negative impact on the environment and the people who crafted them – and with no restrictions on what a woman of 50 “should” be wearing. Soon, their designs were cult classics that sold out at every pop-up event and Yasmin’s bold, ever-changing personal style turned heads. Now, she is in high demand for collaborations with top brands such as Nivea and Birkenstock – and she’s outspoken about the need for older women to be taken as they are: strong, sexy and still living their best lives. 

A late-life pivot may seem daunting to some, but to Yasmin changing track is part of moving forward. She’s been embracing change since she was a child. When she was 15, her family immigrated from Johannesburg to Sydney, Australia. The start was tough: at a time when friends are so important, she found herself in a harsh co-ed school where she faced racism and name-calling. She was moved to girls’ school where she made good friends and could finish her high school years on a high. She studied social work in Australia before moving to Los Angeles, where she worked as a model and clothing boutique assistant for a few years. By 26, she found herself back in South Africa to carry on her social work career. “Looking back, I was choosing constant change in a way… that unconscious desire for change has always been there,” she reflects.  

After her two children flew the nest, Yasmin could not deny it any longer: she had to do something for herself. “I stopped working when I had my children and I loved being there for them. But there was that itch that I couldn’t scratch: I needed to do something for myself, other than my important role as a mother. Because when you say you’re a mother, it’s always somebody else who benefits from it. But I wasn’t ready for a long time – I was just too comfortable. But then that itch came, and I think you need to sit in discomfort to find change sometimes,” she explains. 

She was cast as a judge on a fashion TV competition and the next thing she knew she had called up Cynthia, saying it was time to bring their idea to life and the fashion label was born. 

Yasmin had no fashion experience, so she was an absolute beginner at a point in life where she felt she had finally got things figured out. “I think it was actually really good for me to go back to square one. There were no expectations of what it was supposed to be, because there was no plan. When you get to a certain age, there are no longer excuses that you make for whatever it is you’re feeling or wanting to do. If it doesn’t work out, well, you do something else. I think if I had been younger, I wouldn’t have had that confidence. I would have thought I was invincible, but I would have blamed myself if things didn’t work out,” she reflects. 

What about retirement? She bends over double laughing. “I don’t think anybody should retire. I think we should all keep busy. I have seen that some of my parents’ friends retire and just stay at home and it’s never a good thing. Keeping busy keeps you connected with people, and that’s what keeps you young. I think humans are curious by nature, and when you stop being curious you stop living. Retirement can so often mean you retire from life, and I don’t want that,” she says.  

Yasmin’s personal style is an expression of this constant curiosity. “My clothes show that there are so many things that I love and I express them differently each day. I like comfortable clothes – they must never restrict me – which is an expression of who I am because I don’t want to restrict myself,” she explains. 


@yasminfurmie Layering away #fashion #layers #colour #proportion #style #confidence #nofear #proage #antiageism #fashiontiktok #styletiktok #reuse #recycle #southafricantiktok #australiantiktok #celine #sunglasses #accessories #nike #jordan1 ♬ original sound – Yasmin Furmie Fashion/Style

“The same goes with my hair. I noticed I was going grey in my thirties, but it didn’t matter because I was dying my hair different colours all the time. I chose to grow out the grey recently and I love it. I like my hair short, which some people say is too masculine. A man on a plane once said to me: ‘You’re very beautiful, but why did you cut your hair so short?'”. 

Yasmin is encouraged that so many young people, in their 20s and 30s, find inspiration from the way she dresses – and do not seem to care that she’s 61. She’s also thrilled to see more and more women over 60 appearing in advertisements and magazine articles with an attitude of “I don’t care what you think – this is what I’m wearing”.  

“We need more of that. Society has told us that 20-year-olds dress like this and 40 years old dress like that – why can’t a 60-year-old wear shorts with her banging body? It has also given older men a massive platform and called their ageing ‘sexy’, while saying older women need to have some work done before they can be paid any attention. 

It’s as if women have been shifted to the side and told not to join and be sexy where message needs to be that it is okay: we are all going to age. 

“I think people who are daunted by ageing focus on the physical. I want to embrace all parts of me as l age to give a good example to my daughter, especially. I am never shy to tell people my age – I want them to know how old I am! I want you to know that you can be full of life at any age. I’m not perfect – my skin is getting lined – but that is who I am and I enjoy life. I have great energy because I keep myself fit and healthy,” she explains.  

She wants young people especially to know that when it comes to ageing, there is nothing to be afraid of. “You think most of your life is going to be over. But I think about what people can achieve at any age, whether it is in fitness or going back to university. I think human beings have this desire to constantly do something. And I think we have been given minds to be curious and if we stop being curious, that is when we no longer exist,” she believes. 

Is there another pivot on the cards? “Who knows, who knows, who knows! You know, your mind is always wondering if you could do this or that. I’ve always wanted to do something with my son because he’s very creative and we both love sneakers. I always want to carry on doing something, reinventing, whatever it is. But that’s a whole other story…”  

Quick-fire questions 

What keeps you young?
My children

What skill should everyone have?
Independence – you should be able to stand on your own two feet.

What’s your idea of fun?
Travelling and good food – preferably together!  

What will be the next big thing?
Tech and fashion are heading into the stratosphere, and they are both exciting things. 


By: Christi Nortier
Photo: Birkenstock, Supplied 

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