Known for its range of considered basics, separates and statement pieces, the Amanda Laird Cherry label is celebrated for giving familiar styles and silhouettes contemporary and avant-garde twists. The label includes ladieswear, accessories and ALC Menswear, created in collaboration with Brendan. We chatted to him about the latest collection.
Two Katsushika Hokusai artworks served as inspiration for the ALC Menswear A/W 2019 collection. Can you take us through how the process works in terms of creating a new collection? What happens after the initial moment of inspiration and how does this develop into a fully-fledged collection?
The brand has always been influenced by Japanese sensibilities and aesthetics, at times more subtle and at others more obvious. Amanda shared these images with the team as a starting point for both collections. Elements we pulled from these images were the movement captured in the rolling waves, the colour palette from the sky and Mount Fuji, the geometric nature of the style, as well as the balance in colour and composition.
‘The vast history behind the brand is a melting pot for inspiration, and I often lose myself in the archives.’
Where else do you get your inspiration?
My personal inspiration comes from how things are made and my fascination with the architecture in clothing. Amanda has cemented the brand as a force to be reckoned within the fashion industry. The vast history behind the brand is a melting pot for inspiration, and I often lose myself in the archives. So combining these two elements works seamlessly.
How did the collaboration with ceramic artist Frank Nthunya come about and what was it about his work that was a good fit for ALC Menswear?
Amanda has a history of working with the Woza Moya crafters at the Hillcrest Aids Centre in KwaZulu-Natal and Frank has his studio on their premises. We met him a couple of years back and fell in love with his work. We knew immediately we wanted to work with him, but it took a while to figure out how to do so. We collaborated with him for the AW19 ladieswear show at South African Fashion Week.
Frank was inspired by our signature prints in his etchings and we were inspired by his unique silhouettes and process of sculpting clay. The overlap into this season’s menswear collection is rooted in the spontaneous nature of Frank’s sculpting and also inspired by the surface texture and colouring his pots take on after being fired. I reinterpreted this with a hand-dying technique called Ice Dying where, much like the firing process, the final result is largely left up to chance. There is an element of risk involved when Frank fires his pots. While a lot of time and effort goes into the prep, there is a good chance his pots could explode in the kiln. This actually happened during our process which gave me a whole new level of respect for his work.
‘This season, we created silhouettes which are abundant with expressive, voluminous layers, and the styling is a mixture of utilitarian and avant-garde.’
Could you outline some of the avant-garde twists in the A/W 2019 collection?
The avant-garde elements are an opportunity for us to stretch our creativity, put on a show and elevate the brand identity. We love this part and it often encapsulates the season’s story as well. This season, we created silhouettes which are abundant with expressive, voluminous layers, and the styling is a mixture of utilitarian and avant-garde. Some of the looks are intentionally monochrome and others have been styled using the same treatment for the entire ensemble. The garments are adorned with details such as sunken utility pockets, intentional topstitching and the marbled print dyed by hand using the technique I mentioned before.
How difficult is it to strike a balance between artistic aesthetics and commercial sensibility?
It’s a careful and intentional process. We approach each new season by designing the collection that will go into stores first. This ready-to-wear collection consists of considered designer pieces, which are more accessible than avant-garde; we focus on subtle but unusual/unconventional details, which inform and extend into the avant-garde pieces we create for our ramp show. We balance the avant-garde with more commercial pieces so there is enough for people to understand, yet we are able to express our creativity and tell a story at the same time.
Fashion and textile designer Nicholas Coutts creates unique highly textured, handwoven pieces, blending traditional craft with a fresh contemporary aesthetic.
Why do you think ‘Africa is Now’?
Creatives in Africa are breaking the mould and the talent is enormous. The dynamic style and vibrancy of Africa rings through all fields of the creative arts, reshaping traditional heritage. It’s driven by young designers who take risks to create a diverse and dynamic aesthetic.
What inspired your men’s collection?
My Cape Flora Kingdom collection was inspired by the natural vegetation that occurs in South Africa, particularly the protea and the disa. Florals and bright colours exude a fresh and optimistic outlook when combined with fabrics and textures that are modern yet used in a traditional way through the use of knits and weaves.
How many skilled staff do you employ and how do you promote growth in your company?
All my work is outsourced. I employ a skilled weaver on an ad hoc basis. I taught her to weave and have always had a vision of employing and teaching more people and forming a cottage industry. I have a pattern maker and a seamstress who have given me amazing support. Hopefully in the future I will become a full-time employer.
Who has been integral to your fabrications and business?
My mother! She taught me to weave in my graduate year at fashion design school and has been there ever since to offer advice and support. She is creative and has good business sense.
What advice was pivotal to your personal or business growth?
Keep going! It’s hard out there, but if you stick to your design philosophy and stay focused, the rewards are there.
What skill set do you require for your business and what advice would you give those seeking to work with you? Do you prefer that they have a singular skill or are a budding young local talent?
Must be able to multi task! There are so many different facets to running a business. I find that I am pulled in all directions some days. Budding local talent is great but one needs more than talent to run a business.
How do you support the local industry?
I try wherever possible to use materials, whether they be yarns for weaving and knitting or fabrics that are locally made, but the variety is limited.
We love the metallic lurex thread in your knits and weaves, your print-on-print and colour palette too. Tell us more about your creative process.
My handwoven and knitted pieces form the basis of my collections so my creative process usually begins with selecting the yarns, colours and textures. I try to tell a story and each garment has its own character. They speak for themselves.
‘Being able to create new fabrics as one weaves is a truly beautiful thing.’
What, for you, is the beauty of weaving?
In the beginning, I did all the weaving myself and it was very time consuming, but the solitude during the weaving process gave me time to think and plan the rest of my collection. Being able to create new fabrics as one weaves is a truly beautiful thing.
What’s the difference between weaving and knitting?
For knitting one uses knitting needles or a knitting machine. A weaving loom is very different. One has to warp up a loom, the warp is the string-like yarn that forms the basis of the weave and then the weft is pulled through the warp which is lifted up and down by the heddle. This in a nutshell is how one weaves.
We love how you have taken the industry of weaving from granny-style arts and crafts to a fresh design-oriented approach. Do you utilise local artisans from the home industry?
Yes, definitely. I discovered the Cape Town Society for the Blind in Salt River some time ago and have an ongoing relationship with some of the weavers there. I also send tapestry weaving to Philani in Khayelitsha and I have several knitters who work from home. They all work from my specifications and patterns, and I supply the yarns and check on developments on a daily basis.
Is the yarn from local farming? Have you ventured to those farms and inspected the living conditions of the farm stock/sheep supplying you with the wool?
I haven’t been to many wool-producing farms as mostly the wool is sent to a co-operative where its sorted and sold in bulk. I have visited an alpaca farm which was an incredible experience as we arrived just as a cria (a newborn alpaca) made its way into this life.
Who are your favourite local designers?
What is your pet hate in local fashion design?
Lack of retail support. There are so few places in South Africa that stock luxury goods.
Who do you love to see wearing your clothes?
The sophisticated man who loves texture and wants to stand out. He is adventurous with fashion and has a mature confidence in what he wears.
Where do you sell your luxury brand?
I sell it online at The Folklore and directly from my studio as well.
What is the price range from scarves to coats?
Prices range from R500 to upwards of R10 000.
Where would you like to see yourself in the future?
As an international fashion and textile designer.
Cape Town’s fashion crowd descended upon the Cruise Terminal of Cape Town’s Waterfront to view the Autumn/Winter presentation of SA Menswear Week. The raw industrial location provided a clean slate for the eclectic collections showcased. Winter 2019 is set to be a kaleidoscope of colour and texture.
The Tokyo James man is urban, street and slick. Modern silhouettes and expert tailoring are given an edge with bright pops of colour and graphic prints. His must-have accessories? The bag, the waist belt and the cape. Go for lime green in true Tokyo James style.
Classic winter fabrics, prints and textures are brought to life with primary colours. Confidence and effortless style come in yellows, greens and reds. The designer’s cable-knit sweaters and oversized scarves are sure to be some of the season’s most covetable items.
Nao’s collection blurs the line between traditional masculine and feminine silhouettes. This vibrant offering is what getting dressed up is all about… saying yes to PVC, yes to fancy headgear and yes to sequins – and above all, yes to having fun.
Winter is all about layering and ALC served the heat. Capes, coats and jackets were thrown over shirts of varying lengths. We particularly liked the longer hemlines. And the tie-dye prints and bucket hats scream ’90s nostalgia.
British-Nigerian designer Tokyo James’ new label Morse explores the intersection between fashion and art.
From Nigerian Afro-fusion singer/songwriter Burna Boy donning a patent black trench coat and red leather pants from the Tokyo James AW19 collection at a concert in Lagos, Nigeria, to the CEO of Chime Group, Udochi Igbokwe, wearing Tokyo James in Forbes magazine, the designer has gained massive traction since the first show of his eponymous label at South African Menswear Week (SAMW) in 2015.
Now Tokyo, whose creative career began as a fashion stylist for a variety of international brands, is launching a new label called Morse. The Morse campaign launch (featured here) was produced by AFRICA IS NOW’s editor Chrisna de Bruyn and the video was directed by Maxime Thaysen.
In terms of the fashion label’s ideology, Tokyo says: ‘With Morse, we’re interested in how fashion plays and intersects with art from various cultures. It also looks at the visual representation of how fashion and various cultures’ art forms meet and how to interpret that into the real modern world. It’s a system of language that communicates visually to the everyday person how societies express themselves and see themselves through art. After all, fashion in and of itself is an art form.’
While traditional techniques, clean lines and wearability are always at the core of his first label, Tokyo James, this year’s menswear show at SAMW will feature ‘a lot of colour and new fabrics’. ‘I’ve used a mixture of fabrics that I’ve never played around with before,’ says Tokyo. ‘There’s a lot of tie-dye, leather and plastics. I hope people like it, it’ll be exciting to see.’
The Tokyo James AW19 SAMW show is at 8pm on 9 February 2019 at the V&A Waterfront. For the full schedule, click here.
PHOTOGRAPHER: HYLTON BOUCHER @HYLTONBOUCHER @ONELEAGUE STYLIST: LOUW KOTZE @LOUW.77
ASSISTANT: BRIGITTE ARNDT
GROOMING: RICHARD WILKINSON @RICHARDPAINT @HEROCREATIVEMANAGEMENT MORSE COLLECTION BY TOKYO JAMES @TOKYOJAMESS PRODUCER: CHRISNA DE BRUYN @CHRISNADEBRUYN @AFRICAISNOWMAGAZINE
Cape Town brand AKJP came into being via a collaboration between Adriaan Kuiters’ designer, Keith Henning and artist Jody Paulsen. Its signature is an artful contemporary twist on classic and utilitarian menswear. AKJP has a concept store in Cape Town, housing 20 of South Africa’s local designers, called Shop.Collective.
The brand uses layering, boxy silhouettes and asymmetrical detailing as distinguishing styling features. Core to the brand is a focus on quality, with the intention of making people feel confident in the clothing, regardless of age.
AKJP SS19 Permanent Collection
A functional, ready-to-wear collection designed with strong, adjustable silhouettes and minimal details, the AKJP SS19 Permanent Collection is accompanied by a seasonal Jody Paulsen print. Originally made in 2016 for the winter collection, the print was inspired by the lush tropical landscape of Durban and the trees and the grain markings found on the interior and exterior surface of wood. ‘I sketched out various 2D grain-like shapes, cut the shapes out by hand and then collaged my shapes together to make the pattern,’ says Jody. ‘The collage was then digitised and rendered into a repeat pattern. We have revisited this print by shifting its colour palette this season.’
The SS19 Permanent collection is their most interactive one yet as customers are encouraged to build their own looks and wardrobe by pairing and matching the reversible styles and colours. Made entirely from Egyptian cotton, the collection is available in the SS19 colour palette.
‘The optimistic palette consists of primary colours contrasted with black, white and mint,’ says Jodi. ‘These pieces are intended to be mixed and matched by the customer, similarly to the way Africa is Now has styled them here. This season we worked on dying our fabrics in colours that were bright but not garish. We hoped to provide our customer with something that felt light, relaxed and easy to wear.’
PHOTOGRAPHER: ELENA IV-SKAYA @LAMPOSTLUSTRE
STYLIST: CHRISNA DE BRUYN AND CARLA VERMAAK @LAMPOSTLUSTRE
MAKE-UP & GROOMING: ALICE COLORITI @ONELEAGUE USING @MACCOSMETICSAFRICA
TEXT: FIONA DAVERN @FIONADAVERN
MODELS: WINNIE JOY @FUSION
AZA MHLANA @MYFRIENDNED
EARRINGS: GITHAN COOPOO
Costume Hire is Africa’s largest supplier of clothing to the film, commercials and photographic industries. Based in Cape Town, they offer a broad range of clothing options to stylists, whether period piece or contemporary. The company started in 2004 when a group of stylists and designers collaborated to combine their stock into a single rental facility. From these humble beginnings in a church hall, the company has expanded significantly and now holds over 120 000 individual items, including the stock of 45 designers in their Salt River warehouse. Co-founder Wolfgang Ender has costume designed over 50 films for the international market. He now offers his expertise in-house at Costume Hire.
PHOTOGRAPHER: KYLE STRYDOM
PHOTOGRAPHER: KYLE STRYDOM
LADUMA BY MAXHOSA
PHOTOGRAPHER: KYLE STRYDOM
MAC COSMETICS AFRICA
PHOTOGRAPHER: STEFAN KLEIN
PHOTOGRAPHER: KYLE STRYDOM
Luxury African Fashion Brand, Imprint ZA took AFI Cape Town Fashion Week by storm with two different runway collections. One of which was in collaboration with Fashion Revolution SA and AFRICA IS NOW Magazine. The collaborative runway show featured original designs from Imprint ZA styled with our signature AFRICA IS NOW white T-shirt. We caught up with Mzukisi Mbane, the designer behind Imprint ZA to find out how he got started and what inspires him.
When did you know you wanted to become a fashion designer and how did you make this dream a reality?
I’ve always known that I wanted to be a fashion designer. However, life worked out differently. I went off to varsity and studied a BCom Accounting. It was only when I was in my final year that I decided to take a gap year to explore fashion. I began by playing around with my mom’s old sewing machine. And just like that my dream of becoming a fashion designer came to life.
Any advice for aspiring African designers?
Stay true to who you are. Most importantly, find out who you are and what statement you want to make with your clothes. Tom Ford says you have to define yourself, and in so doing, ask yourself why would anyone need what you are creating. There is already so much out there, so why would people want to buy your creations.
Where do you go to find inspiration for your work?
I see my brand as a storytelling tool. Celebrating the stories and glamour of our African ancestors with a very modern and futuristic feel. So for me, inspiration comes from understanding who I am, where I am and where I want to be.
How would you describe your brand’s style and how has your style evolved over the years?
It’s an African luxury brand with an Afro-futuristic aesthetic. When I started, it already had its distinct look and feel, but over the years it has grown to be more about a shared African identity rather than just mine as a Xhosa South African man. Today, the brand reveals my understanding of what it means to be African.
What have you learned about African identity through your work?
Africa is more than its beautiful prints and colours. It’s very rich in culture, history and art, and the beautiful prints and colours are merely symbols of this. Most importantly, Africa has always been and always will be the root that gave life to all. Understanding that has made me able to claim my African identity with such pride and power. My work is limitless.
If you’re not busy working on Imprint, what are you doing?
Chilling with my friends or mostly just catching up on some series.
What’s your favourite hang-out spot in Cape Town?
I’m tempted to say my studio, but it’s got to be anywhere in the township. Any of these new places that are being created with the aim of rebranding the townships.
If you had to describe your AW18 collection in three words, what would they be?
Our Future Africa.
AFRICA IS NOW went behind the scenes at both South African Menswear Week events this year to take a look at this platform from a whole new perspective.
February saw almost 25 designers showcase their Autumn/Winter collections in the iconic Cape Town City Hall. And July saw our Spring/Summer fashions showcased at the V&A Waterfront.
South African Menswear Week just celebrated its 8th season, and after exploring the backstage and watching from front row, we realised just what makes this platform tick, and what makes it different from the other fashion weeks in South Africa. SAMW is all about passion, and sure, it’s become a little more polished as time has gone on, but it’s still all about that raw discovery and promotion of talent.
SAMW was the first catwalk in SA (and among the first in the world, actually) to showcase a number of consecutive gender-neutral collections. The push by the platform to include more streetwear from South African designers over traditional suiting initially raised eyebrows. But it also showed that as a platform, the dynamic young team, who cut their teeth on platforms such as London Collections Men (now London Fashion Week Men), could see beyond the curve. The young designers, including Rich Mnisi, Lukhanyo Mdingi, Nao Serati, being added each season proved to be another innovation, as they genuinely are the names of the future.
Chatting to the team, we learned they do not believe in competitions (if you’ve wondered why every other fashion week appears to offer some form of competition and they don’t). Head of the platform, Simon Deiner, explains: ‘Design is a business, not a lucky draw. We ensure that the designers have the basics correct and then they are invited to show.’
Backstage the energy between the various teams – many of whom donate their skills and time to the non-profit platform – is electric. The passion can be felt, the enthusiasm seen, and most importantly the combined effort witnessed as each collection makes its way down the catwalk.
Enjoy these photographs, from the print-filled Chulaap through to the current rulers of streetwear Good Good Good, and the intricate tailoring of Tokyo James, we hope you enjoy the efforts of SA MENSWEAR from AW18 and SA MENSWEAR from SS19 in our visual journey backstage at SA Menswear Week.
SA Menswear Week AW 2019: 7-9 February 2019, Cape Town.
PHOTOGRAPHER: HYLTON BOUCHER @ONE LEAGUE
SA MENSWEAR WEEK WEBSITE
SA MENSWEEK INSTAGRAM