Bringing the creative process to life is often a challenging task for local designers. There is a need to keep their product competitive in a world of giant retailers, fast fashion and mass production. We asked our featured local designers what their brand stands for, where they get their inspiration from and why it’s so important to be supporting local.
“We believe African fashion should be part of an international market with a local perspective.” – KLûK CGDT
“If everyone just bought fewer, better quality garments every year it would make a massive difference in the world.” – Hannah Lavery
“We focus on bringing together form and function by combining locally sourced, quality materials to fashion smart, modern and sophisticated pieces.” – Justine Shelly, Anvil&I
“At it’s heart our brand is proudly South African, guided by a commitment to nurture local artisans and industry as well as to source materials, whenever possible, from within this rich, eclectic country.” – Kat Van Duinen
“We play around with mock-ups at the studio a lot so often a pattern morphs into something completely different from what I originally designed – like its leading the way.” – Hannah Lavery
“We are a tiny team and a proudly female run brand in the heart of Cape Town and stay true to creating ethically made, authentic and quality pieces inspired by the landscape and oceans of Africa.” – Amor Coetzee, Dayfeels
“By consuming items that are of good quality and only when we need them, we minimize all the unnecessary things being introduced into the world.” – Thalia Strates
“Our products proudly stand for an ethical and fair work environment. Our high quality garments are priced competitively to try to contribute to a consumers mind shift of buying long lasting garments made locally and giving them access to actually get to know who made their clothes.” – Deeva Merwe, Merwe Salt
“We aim to inspire slow fashion and pride in conscious consumption through the creation of meaningfully made products.” – Thalia Strates
“If everyone just bought fewer, better quality garments every year it would make a massive difference in the world.” – Hannah Lavery
“Our ‘Devine Femme’ collection explores the balance between the feminine and masculine energy within the self. The Divine Feminine is beyond gender.” – Celeste Arendse, Selfi
“Supporting local creative and cultural industries has a direct impact on constructing our national identity as well as the obvious benefits on the economy and job creation.” – Gillian Lawrence, Lorne
This collab between AFRICA IS NOW and Ginger Mary is a celebration of spring and the feminine form.
Ginger Mary’s fashion fingerprint is all about boldness and softly accentuating the female form. The latest range, as always a well-balanced blend of eclectic and on-trend clothing, heralds in the warmer months with a rainbow of earthy, vibrant, saturated colours. Expect an array of unique prints and patterns, plus a selection of quality fabrics and trims. Each item is ultra-wearable, characterised by meticulous attention to detail and easy to combine with your existing wardrobe.
PHOTOGRAPHER: MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE – HERO
DIGITAL ASSISTANT: NICOLE SUTTLE
LIGHTING ASSISTANT: JOHN MARKS
ART DIRECTOR: TARYN HESSE
SENIOR STYLIST: CAREN WALSH
AFRICA IS NOW FASHION EDITOR: CHRISNA DE BRUYN
FASHION ASSISTANT: ROBYN CLARKE
FASHION ASSISTANT: CHACONNE KAYE
HAIR AND MAKE: ALICE COLORITI – SNCM
LEBO MLYUMKISI – ICE GENETICS
TONI OLOKO – BOSS MODELS
PRODUCER: NEIL ROBERTS – HERO
ASSISTANT PRODUCER: JULIE ASSRTS – HERO
ASSISTANT PRODUCER: CATE ROCHAT – HERO
Cape Town-based fashion designer Onesimo Bam has full faith in the collaborative creative process. He also believes in allowing things to unfold organically. The OneIAm collective is testament to his sartorial philosophy and the ancient paint technique employed in its latest collection celebrates the one-of-a-kind power of fluidity.
It all begins with words… A surprising start for a fashion designer who has a background in surface design (essentially print making), which he studied at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). An avid reader, Onesimo (26), who was born in the Eastern Cape, loves to disappear into books for creative inspiration.
‘I go to the library as often as possible. I read a lot, especially about different cultures or specific periods of history. I look at what textures and colours they used, what sort of food they ate, what sort of art they surrounded themselves with, etc. I take that all in and then I go into the studio, never knowing what’s going to come out.
‘I try not to think about it and rather let my hand do the work when I create a pattern or something new. I just go in, I never really plan or let myself get too much in my head. I never sketch anything. I like to be fluid about it and to let my current emotions influence the creative process.’
This process is often operating on a deeper level; one that’s not instantly accessible to the designer. For a previous collection called Dichotomy, Onesimo says he was playing around with an unusual bulbous shape. ‘I had been feeling in some way unsafe. I only later realised that this shape was womblike,’ he says. ‘So sometimes things come out during the creative process that are taking place on a subconscious level. It often only clicks for me at the end.’
‘What I love about the kimono is that whoever wears the garment creates their own unique silhouette.’
The kimono is central to OneIAm collections and an expression of Onesimo’s enduring fascination with Japan. ‘I’ve never been to Japan but I look at designers like Yohji Yamamoto [who uses Japanese design aesthetics] and Rei Kawakubo [founder of Comme des Garçons] and what they do in terms of how forward-thinking they are. The techniques they use and their design processes are intriguing.’
The kimono’s ability to transform is another element that drew Onesimo’s attention to the garment. ‘What I love about the kimono is that whoever wears the garment creates their own unique silhouette. As the wearer, you create your own shape – for each and every person it’s different; it’s individual.’
While Onesimo didn’t get to finish his surface design course at CPUT due to financial constraints, he says that he knew he’d be involved in the fashion industry. ‘I’ve always been in love with fashion in a way. The garments that you wear are an interpretation of who you are. The more expressive they are, the better. Clothes are who we are. They express emotion; they express your mood on a specific day. I was always going to explore the world of fashion.’
And explore it he does. With a difference. Onesimo is drawn to a mélange of creativity, which he seeks out via collaborations. He sees similarities between the Japanese and African cultures, which he believes are linked by a shared sense of community. ‘My way of working involves a deeply collaborative process. I bring in a lot of people.’
The designer started out small with what was supposed to be a collaboration with different artists who also happened to be friends. ‘I gave them each a kimono and they all came up with ideas and I also did my own kimonos. In the end, we couldn’t go ahead with the exhibition, but we did a really cool shoot, which was conceptualised in collaboration with one of my mentors, Kassie Naidoo. Things began from there really. Kassie and I have been working with each other ever since. It’s an ongoing journey. We’re not sure where it will lead.’
‘There’s something so beautiful about the suminagashi process because you never know what the end result will be. It’s the beauty of it. You have no control over it. It is what it is.’
For this collection, OneIAm’s third, the collaborators were his mentor Kassie, who is a creative director, and Mbongiseni Dube, an architect. ‘I met Mbongiseni when I was doing my first show last year. He told me he was keen to collaborate. I don’t sketch so it’s difficult for some people to understand my thinking. But Mbongiseni and Kassie speak my language; they understand me easily.’
When Onesimo first met Kassie, he explained to her that while he’d studied surface design, he was more interested in making commentary about art through clothing and textiles. ‘I thought it was a fascinating approach,’ says Kassie. ‘Onesimo showed me one or two pieces and I thought they were incredible. While we initially had a very loose collaboration, my role has grown into one very much of mentorship. What’s nice about Onesimo and I is that he’s a young creative who’s passionate about making his mark and leaving some kind of an impression as an artist. And what I’m doing from my end is helping to conceive of the big idea, then fine-tuning the concept, and the detailed thinking around it. What I’d like to do next is to help Onesimo on the business side.
‘Unfortunately, this kind of collaboration between young creatives and seasoned creatives doesn’t always happen in this country and it really needs to happen more in order to shift and create more roles in creative fields, whether it’s fashion or art, or design. Collaboration creates fresh perspectives.’
Onesimo says that he usually gives his collaborators one word. For his most recent collection that word was furō – the Japanese word for ‘flow’. ‘I love all sorts of creative energies so I like them to go crazy in whatever direction they decide to go,’ says Onesimo. ‘It’s interesting because it usually comes out looking similar, like one body of work, even though it’s different interpretations; different brains; different eyes.’
They discovered an ancient Japanese technique called suminagashi, which means ‘floating ink’. Each collaborator was then assigned a plain kimono and they went into the studio to experiment with the technique.
‘There’s an element of it that is so meditative,’ says Onesimo. ‘You drop paint in the water and then you dip the fabric in the water. There’s something so beautiful about the suminagashi process because you never know what the end result will be. It’s the beauty of it. You have no control over it. It is what it is. It only comes out once and you can never reproduce it. It’s unique.’
The OneIAm collective unfolds organically as needed. ‘It’s never planned,’ says Onesimo, before directly contradicting himself. ‘Sometimes it’s planned… but that’s never a good thing [laughs]. I rather let things happen naturally. I never want to force things.’
PHOTOGRAPHER: NADIA VON SCOTTI
TEXT: FIONA DAVERN
FASHION DIRECTOR: CHRISNA DE BRUYN
ASSISTANT: GABRIEL MWORIA
MAKE-UP: ALET VILJOEN
MODELS: FIFI @ BOSS MODELS
TOBI @BOSS MODELS
BRIAN @ICE MODELS
LEBO @ICE GENETICS
DIRECTOR: DILLON BUIRSKI @DILLONBUIRSKI
DOP: NICOL DIPPENAAR @NICOLDIPPENAAR
1ST AC: DANIEL SNYDERS @DANIELSNYDERS
LIGHTING: CASPER ERASMUS @CASPERERASMUS
EDITOR: LUKA SCOTT @WEARE_CREATIVE
COLOUR: KYLE STROEBEL @REFINERY_CAPETOWN
SOUND DESIGN: ROSS MACDONALD @HEYPAPALEGEND
POET & VO ARTIST: IAIN THOMAS @REALIAINTHOMAS
PRODUCER: CALVIN SHUSHU @CALVI_SHU
At 27 years old, Rich Mnisi, has worked his way into the African and global fashion landscape at a furious pace with no sign of slowing down.
A charismatic, young and dynamic designer with no off switch, Mnisi’s creative skills and curatorial eye have allowed his to translate between a number of creative disciplines, ensuring his distinct, signature designs are, already, in the closet or the ‘Wishlist’ of a diverse set of consumers, fashion lovers and celebrities alike.
Nicola Cooper, Senior Trend Analyst and Cultural Strategist aimed some rare questions to the, notoriously, productive designer. This is what the man behind the RICH MNISI brand had to say about life, his Mom and what it feels like to dress both Queen B’s.
What was your first introduction to the fashion space and how old were you?
I was 4 years old. My sister looked at a pair of jeans and she saw a skirt – the way she reworked and altered her clothing was absolutely inspiring.
She triggered my desire to play with clothes myself; at a very young age and got me I into the trend of cutting up clothing, wrapping curtains around my body and cutting up magazines to make paper clothing.
You are formally educated/trained in Fashion, do you think this gives you an advantage or a point of differentiation for other designers?
Not necessarily, besides technical skills, fashion is really about having a good eye.
Creatives pull inspirations from a variety of sources, where is your starting point for a concept for a range, a shoot or a product, how do you kick start the process?
Generally my design process is different from season to season, sometimes it starts with a song, fabric, the core inspiration or just me strutting down my corridor imaging how a skirt moves.
South African designers are often limited with fabric, you have gotten around this through the use of clever cuts, textures such as pleating, print design etc. Do you think that the limited accessibility of materials has pushed you into being more creative?
Yes and No, in the beginning that was definitely the case. I had to design smart and within my means but now I’ve developed my own aesthetic and there’s certain things that will always be in a RICH MNISI collection.
How does it feel to receive news that Beyoncé/Naomi Campbell/Bonang Matheba is wearing a RICH MNISI piece?
It means that we are magic and that our work travels well globally. That we have a growing market to attract.
I always feel incredibly humbled and motivated to do more when people wear my clothes no matter who they are. As long as people feel good in them, then I am fulfilled and more so when I get to fly my country’s flag high.
You have referenced your Mom as inspiration behind your work, what is the thing you want your Mom to be most proud of in you? Each parent has a dream for their child, I hope her dreams are realised when she thinks of me. I want our family name to be referenced in history.
You are known as a Designer, but you have moved beyond this categorisation into Art Directing/Creative Direction/Furniture Design and much more, is there a reason to this?
I do it to recharge my creativity, to feel uncomfortable and to explore my creativity fully. Fashion can get repetitive and you can find yourself being comfortable and relying on your past successes.
What is your favourite outcome this far into your career, anything that came out even better than you anticipated or could plan?
My collaboration with Southern Guild on my furniture pieces has been the highlight of my career. The process, the outcome and the response were a pleasant surprise and I’m only excited to make more.
As a successful, young, black, African designer do you think/feel that you are paving the way for other designers and does this add any additional pressure to your career?
I think everyone’s contribution to the local fashion industry contributes greatly to how the industry is shaped.
If you could sum up – in your own words – Young, Contemporary African Aesthetic.
And how does the Rich Mnisi brand fit into this?
My work is based off lived experiences.
You surround yourself with equally talented friends and often work with them as well, is it easier or harder to work with friends?
It’s very fluid, and never forced. The best is that it’s ‘ignited’ by conversation and mutual interests.
Beyond your talent you have become “somewhat of Celebrity” is there a difference between your private and public persona?
I’m always myself.
What is the perfect soundtrack to a Rich Mnisi life?
Beyoncé – Bigger
What do you do to disconnect or relax?
I’m not sure if I’ve ever fully disconnected to be honest.
How would you explain your personal style?
Informed by how I feel or want to feel.
Is there an end goal for you or are you just seeing where life takes you?
We have a lot of amazing plans for the future of the brand.
Do you have something new that we can to the Africa Is Now Audience?
After a year of research, design and prototypes – I am excited to announce that I am collaborating with Southern Guild on a group show opening on the 24th of October 2019. The show will launch my new furniture pieces titled Nwa-Mulamula: Alkebulan. A fashion collection with the same title will follow shortly after.
This release will be different to what I usually do each season.
South African label Imprint’s latest spring/summer offering is like a collection of memories. Called Imvelaphi – The Home Coming, it’s a celebration of the brand going right back to the beginning. And it’s the perfect time to look back, as the brand makes the big move to Johannesburg.
Imprint has a very clear and singular ethos: ‘Leave a mark’. And it does so indelibly and elegantly. For spring/summer Imprint has journeyed back to the beginning; to its very first collections, most significantly the following ones: Our Roots, Geometry & Rock ’n Roll and Harbouring Hope.
‘The collection was a further display of where the brand began, which was with commercial prints and colour,’ says owner and designer Mzukisi Mbane. ‘And how it grew to become a brand which adopted the use of print as a storytelling tool; a brand that has grown into redefining our print identity through creating our own print.’
This show was the last Imprint will have before its move to Johannesburg. ‘This is for a variety of reasons,’ explains Mzukisi. ‘We are opening a new store in Joburg and we really don’t have a buying market in Cape Town, so it doesn’t make sense for us to keep showing in Cape Town. Cape Town fashion weeks never have the media we need, they never have the right market in attendance and it’s really just an expensive exercise that doesn’t give you anything. Hence the bold decision to rather invest in something that will give us some measurable return on investment.’
Imprint’s biggest market is already in Johannesburg – 80% of their monthly sales are with Joburg-based clients, while only 15% can be allotted to those based in other provinces and only 5% is the Cape Town-based client. ‘It then doesn’t make sense to be away from a market that is giving us the financial support we need,’ says Mzukisi.
The new Imprint store at Victoria Yards in Johannesburg will be having a show to launch and officially open on 28 September. The event will be exclusive to Imprint’s clients, media, buyers and celebrities with a surprise guest star performing at the runway show.
It’s all-out Nigerian style as photographer Noma Osula captures the relaxed masculine-meets-feminine flair of Bloke, with shoes by Maliko.
Bloke is an androgynous Nigerian label founded by Faith Oluwajimi. As creative director, he likes to explore new knitting techniques seasonally. However, aside from his penchant for knitwear, Faith also enjoys creating carefully considered garments. Known to be quirky and artsy, the brand is embraced by a community described as ‘spiritually conscious, art lovers, unconventional with an African identity’. Bloke won the maiden edition of the Emerge ALÁRA Awards 2018 and was a finalist of the Lagos Fashion Week ‘Fashion Focus Africa’ 2018 competition which seeks to uncover new design talent.
Maliko is an artisanal accessory brand based in the energetic city of Lagos, Nigeria. Ebuka Omaliko is the creative director and founder, who’s known for his use of colours and silhouettes when it comes to shoes. Maliko exclusively engages local artisans as a means of encouraging sustainable craftsmanship and ethical practices. The brand was one of the winners of the 2018 Lagos Fashion Week Green Access competition.
PHOTOGRAPHER: NOMA OSULA @NOMA.O
PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANT: JAMES UKPAI @U.JAMESOFFICIAL
MODELS: BLESSING SOMA @BLESSINGSOMA @FOWLERMODELS AND
TOMORI AANUOLUWAPO @AANUOLUWAPOTOMORI
PRODUCTION: GINA AMAMA FOR GENERATION_X @GNATION_X
COLLAGE AND RETOUCHING: GENERATION_X @GNATION_X
CLOTHING: BLOKE STUDIO ARCHIVE @BLOKE_NG
SHOES: MALIKO SS19 @MALIKOSTUDIOS
The Cape Town-based fashion labels take a fresh and fluid approach with their latest collections.
Selfi designer Celeste Arendse looks to a genderless future with her utilitarian Spring 2019 collection, titled Devine Femme. Rendered in 100% biodegradable raw silks and bull denim, Selfi’s collection is produced by a team of local CMTs in the room behind its Loop Street store.
The Molyneux pieces are from her recently debuted menswear collection of versatile core pieces designed to stand the test of time. Similarly, Molyneux’s design studio is down the road from her store. Organic styling, genderless embellishment and a highly considered approach to sustainability are its defining qualities.
Floral artist Alwijn Burger, aka Blomboy, says the fashion shoot was borne from photographer Jacobus Snyman’s vision. ‘He has a brilliant eye and hand-picked a gang of creatives who could each bring a unique angle to the visual. Magic happens when you put 4 creatives in a room – a highly contagious level of inspiration!’
In terms of the foliage and blooms, Alwijn explains that they were selected for their sculptural qualities. ‘I wanted the floral accessories to complement the garments in a masculine and minimalist way, so colour was kept to strong, neutral earthy tones. We used bleached Italian ruscus; guava foliage and green fruits; the petals from a white king protea, preserved hydrangea; and dried banana leaf.’
While his style evolves and adapts, he says: ‘I’d like to think of it as considered, sensitive and masculine.’
The fashion crowd defied the grey, rainy Saturday and showed up at the KPMG building in Cape Town’s city centre for the Spring/Summer collections 2020 of South African Menswear Week.
The collection is a preview of the latest spring/summer offering. The silhouette, mood and inspiration is nothing but a collection of memories. The stand out being their ‘roots’ – ‘sex, geometry and rock ‘n roll – harbouring hope’. The collection was a further display of where they have been, starting out with commercial prints and colour, and growing into a brand that adopts the use of print as a storytelling tool. A brand that has thrived and now redefines their identity through creating their own prints.
The collection is based around a growing desire to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint. It embraces soft colour mixes and tried-and-trusted shapes made exclusively from three textile houses, all notable for their ethical processes and sustainability.
This season’s offering is a masterclass in elegant layering with elements of eccentricity such as flowing ribbons. The must-have accessory is the bucket hat.
Sol Sol walks the line between menswear and streetwear using melton, velour, cotton, teddy and nylon. Expect clean silhouettes in red tones and leopard print. Add the Sol Sol shoulder bag to your summer arsenal.
This year’s SA Menswear week ended with romantic gestures like floral prints and playful stripes. Shorts or ankle-length pants, all paired with white socks and sneakers. The Throwaway Twenty man completes his look with a tied summer scarf.
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.
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
AFRICA IS NOW brings you a behind-the-scenes look at the SA Menswear show in February 2018. With exclusive backstage access, Sinjin Sullwald captures some candid moments featuring AW18’s top trends.
PHOTOGRAPHER: SINJIN SULLWALD
SA MENSWEAR AW18 WEBSITE
SA MENSWEAR AW18 INSTAGRAM