ORANGE CULTURE

For Adebayo Okelawal, passion and resilience lead to growth which in turn lead to more knowledge and confidence in his work. Fashion stylist Anna Rykova chats to Adebayo about his growth, the hardest parts of fashion and the role of social media in business.

You are a self-taught designer who’s first profession had nothing to do with fashion and it wasn’t really your choice. Was it difficult to tell your family that fashion was what you want to dedicate your life to? What scared you the most when you worked on your first collection and how did you fight your fears?

It was difficult to tell my parents, especially my dad. In Nigeria, the generation before us had not seen a lot of fashion careers to use as yardsticks or examples to encourage their belief in us having such careers. So it took a lot, and a lot of sacrifice for me; I had to intern while I was in school and work on the side without their knowledge and learn on my own. My mum was easier to convince but my dad was very adamant about it because he didn’t believe I could survive financially on fashion.

That scared me and it also was one of my fears growing up, wondering if fashion could sustain the life I dreamed of.

When it came to my first collection, my biggest fear was that it would be hated and which it honestly was haha. I think what helped me defeat my fear was the realisation that I doing it with fear! I learnt to just go for it no matter what.

Fast forward to 2020 my parents are now so supportive because they’ve seen how resilient I am and they’ve seen growth. I am still designing every collection afraid but with a little more knowledge of self and more confidence!

When I first interviewed you in 2013, you were at the early stage of your career, you were very excited and “hungry”. Did anything change about how you feel for fashion now?

I am still very excited and even more hungry. I’d say more hungry than excited lol.

I work with a lot of aspiring designers and for many of them, fashion seems to be easy. A lot of them are misguided by Instagram success stories of other designers and brands and look at the fashion industry as a happy place which is not always as such. What did you have to sacrifice on your journey? What sides (moments) are the most challenging?

The hardest parts of fashion for me are the business side, manufacturing locally and understanding the ever-changing customer.

Fashion is one of the most difficult businesses in the world and it requires a lot of passion for it to stay running for years!

Speaking of social media. You seem to enjoy blogging. You are more than a designer but also an influencer. Do you think being active on Instagram (and I am speaking about your personal account) helps the business?

It does! I wear a lot of Orange Culture and so people who love my style, shop what I’ve worn. Also, I find a lot of customers want to know the face behind the brand and once they buy into the person behind the brand, they also sometimes buy into the brand.

Do you try to make your Instagram life look prettier than it actually is? What do you like to blog about the most?

To be very honest – I just post what I feel. I think with social media, you post what makes you happy and moments you don’t want to forget! Which is why I rarely post really sad moments.

I do not post anything fake or pretentious though.

You follow more than 4000 people on Instagram. Who are they?

Editors, stylists, style connoisseurs, artists in general, flower shops, foodies, animal lovers ( especially cats ) and Instagram crushes.

At your most challenging times, what makes you go on? What motivates you?

Family, close friends and prayers!

A couple of years ago I met participants of one design project in Nairobi. What surprised me was that none of them wore their own designs! You, on the other hand, always wear your stuff. Which is the right thing to do if you ask an editor. Apart from Orange Culture, what are your other top 3 brands to wear?

Thank you so much! Wow, my top 3 brands that I wear aside from Orange Culture!

  1. DRICKY
  2. Emmy Kasbit
  3. The Ruin

If you were offered the job of a creative director at one of the big international brands but you would have to give up your own brand, would you take it?

I would not give up my brand, we would have to negotiate better haha. I would love to be the creative director of a big brand though.

If you had a chance to have an internship or be an assistant of any fashion designer dead or alive who would it be? And in fact, do you believe nowadays, when everything changes so fast, it’s still necessary to assist for few years before you start your own thing?

I agree you should most definitely intern! I’d assist Kim Jones.

What does your regular day look like?

No day is regular haha.

PHOTOGRAPHER: JOLAOSO ADEBAYO @ADEBAYOPHOTOGRAPHER
FASHION EDITOR, STYLIST: ANNA RYKOVA @MUDFISH77 @ANNARYKOVASTYLE
FASHION EDITOR ASSISTANT: MOSES EBITE @MOSESEBITE
ART DIRECTOR: KWEN MAYE @KWENMAYE
DAPO @DARKPRINCE_M @FUSEMODELS
LOLADE @LOLADEMANUEL @FUSEMODELS
CHUKA @ICHUKA_ @MY_BOOKER_MODELS
DOLAPO @DOLAPO.CRA @BETHMODELAFRICA
SHOES @MALIKOSTUDIOS

BEACH CULT

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

What inspires you?

Everything! I live in a constant state of conceptual redesign. Particularly when I travel – a whole new collection could be inspired by the color of a fruit, a piece of modern art or the song of a street band

Are there any tips you would like to give young entrepreneurs locally and in Africa on how to start a fashion brand?

Keep it local and be consistent. I produce 100% locally with small local artisans and CMT’s, and all my prints are collaborations with local artists and illustrators. Whilst this can be more expensive, it translates very well both locally and internationally on a sustainability and design front. I would also suggest avoiding trying to compete with high street fashion – they produce millions of units and you won’t be able to compete on price, so rather compete on design! I specialise in one of a kind prints designed here in South Africa in unique silhouettes – I’m not trying to appeal to everyone – just to my loyal customer base who have grown over the years and who I treasure.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

Give us an idea of a day in in the life of your business

It’s December now so it’s particularly busy for me! I head off fabric shopping while also collecting our printed fabrics, to get some production in before Christmas ( all our key dresses have sold out early) and the lovely ladies at my favourite CMT, Merwe Mode, are staying open so we can finish some more styles in time. At the same time, the girls head to our Loop Street store to send out our online orders, before going down to our pop up at the waterfront – we have just launched The Ultimate Summer Pop UP opposite Woolworths until the end of January, which is pretty exciting. I meet everyone at the waterfront and manage the staff and check on merchandising before we sit down for a marketing meeting. We run all of our own marketing and typically each week we will send out a mailer to our clients, as well as 3 – 5 Instagram and Facebook posts per week. Then it’s back to running the pop up – we have 15 other local designers on board and we run the sales for them as well. The girls will finish up the day at the waterfront whilst I head to design meetings – I’ve started conceptualising next year’s collection already and I’m meeting with print designers to work on some ideas. To finish up, most evenings in December have a fashion event or party on – tonight we have the Bokeh fashion film event at the Silo for some champagne and to catch up with the local industry!

What’s your favourite swimwear trend for 2020?

I’m really turned on by animal print – somehow it’s just working for me this season. All our current season prints feature animals in some way, and we will definitely carry this tone forward to the next collection (without giving anything away here).

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

Tell us a bit more about where you source your fabrics?

Most of our fabric is sourced locally, except some of our swimwear fabric which is sourced in Italy and Asia – but all printed locally.

Do you manufacture your swimwear in South Africa?

Yes, 100% locally here in Cape Town.

Where is your biggest clientele? Local or international?

Our main loyal clientele is actually local. We have the same wonderful clients who purchase all the pieces from each collection, they know our fits and prints and refuse to buy swimwear anywhere else. We do however now sell in Greece and Turkey, and we sell online internationally – mostly to Europe and the USA.

Where can we buy your product?

The best place this summer is at our V&A Waterfront concept store – The Ultimate Summer Pop Up, opposite Woolworths on the Lower Ground floor ( we also have a selection of other fabulous local designers there). Otherwise online at www.beachcult.co.za, or at our studio store at 30 Loop Street.

Do you see a future for local designers in South Africa?

Yes – as long as they continue to produce locally with a strong South African flair – I think we can grow our export market and compete in terms of authenticity and uniqueness on an international level.

Describe yourself in 3 words

Creative, Caring, Entrepreneur.

How do you design to cater for different shapes?

We have a big variety of shapes in our brand – from tiny Brazilian style bikinis and high cut deep v one pieces to high waist 50’s style bikinis and full coverage one-pieces. I do however think that as a small brand you should avoid trying to appeal to everyone – I have someone tell me what style of bikini I should make or what other size almost every day, despite making nearly 50 swimwear styles in 5 sizes. I don’t think niche brands should shoot themselves in the foot by trying to make everyone happy – I simply don’t have enough sales volumes to justify it – I think you should make your brand for your target market and don’t dilute your brand by appealing to absolutely everyone.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

Do you see a future for local designers in South Africa?

Yes – as long as they continue to produce locally with a strong South African flair – I think we can grow our export market and compete in terms of authenticity and uniqueness on an international level.

Describe yourself in 3 words

Creative, Caring, Entrepreneur.

How do you design to cater for different shapes?

We have a big variety of shapes in our brand – from tiny Brazilian style bikinis and high cut deep v one pieces to high waist 50’s style bikinis and full coverage one-pieces. I do however think that as a small brand you should avoid trying to appeal to everyone – I have someone tell me what style of bikini I should make or what other size almost every day, despite making nearly 50 swimwear styles in 5 sizes. I don’t think niche brands should shoot themselves in the foot by trying to make everyone happy – I simply don’t have enough sales volumes to justify it – I think you should make your brand for your target market and don’t dilute your brand by appealing to absolutely everyone.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult
Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

What’s sparked your interest in fashion?

My grandmother. She was completely fabulous. She made me all kinds of amazing clothes when I was a child – from tartan little suit dresses to clown costumes – anything I wanted she would make on her sewing machine. She believed in dressing up everyday in fantastic dresses, feathered hats and jewels and always made everyone smile.

Where do you see your brand going in the future?

Our online sales are really booming and we would like to keep this is our focus, along with our loop street store as our base. I’d like to expand to being sold in swim concept stores in Europe and the USA as well.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult
Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult
Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

As a creative how do you plan on giving back to the community?

I produce 100% locally with small groups of local artisans and women from Cape Town. I believe in supporting mom & pop industries in all of our production, as well as employing locals. I believe one of the best things we can do to support our economy and community is to create small local businesses to create jobs and increase local production. The trickle-down effect of each job created is critical to the local economy on a very basic level – the more sales we get, the more jobs we create, and the more local industry we support.

I also employ four interns per year, as I remember how hard to was to break into the local industry which is dominated by either mass industry, or small local designers who don’t have employees. To date, everyone who has interned with us has gone on to get a job or has been employed by us!

Who do you really want to dress in your swimwear? Who’s your dream client?

I love fabulous, outrageous women. Gypsetters who was to wear a whole look from BeachCult and go adventuring in Zanzibar or Tulum, and don’t abide by the clothing rules of society.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

PHOTOGRAPHER: ALEXA SINGER @LUSTRE
STYLIST: CHRISNA DE BRUYN
MODELS: YEMI @BOSSMODELSCT
ENIKO @THEMANAGEMENT
PRODUCTION: @LUSTRE

LESOTHO RODEO

Chu Suwannapha’s unisex Spring/ Summer ’20 collection is inspired by Sotho culture and the Sotho mountain people, a swirl of cultures and a blurring of borders.

africa_is_now-CHULAAP-fashion-011

Think Wild Wild West; Africa edition. There is a distinct cowboy reference, but it’s more complex than the sheriff hat. The unexpected combinations of Western Cowboy scarves, streetwear beanies, sporty re-deconstructed sandals, and sophisticated tailoring give the story it’s edge.

The looks can be described as sophisticated streetwear and African dandy-esque.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Lesotho Rodeo
africa_is_now-CHULAAP-fashion-03
africa_is_now-CHULAAP-fashion-04
africa_is_now-CHULAAP-fashion-05
africa_is_now-CHULAAP-fashion-07
africa_is_now-CHULAAP-fashion-08
africa_is_now-CHULAAP-fashion-06
africa_is_now-CHULAAP-fashion-09
africa_is_now-CHULAAP-fashion-010
africa_is_now-CHULAAP-fashion-02

PHOTOGRAPHER:  FRANCOIS VISSER
CAMARA:  PHASE ONE
STYLIST:  CHRISNA DE BRUYN
DESIGNER:  CHULAAP
HATS:  SIMON AND MARY
LEATHER BAGS AND BELTS:  MISSIBABA
SANDALS:  AIR MBADADA
MAKE UP ARTIST:  ALICE COLORITI
STUDIO:  SUNRISE FILM STUDIO
MODELS:  COLIN  @BOSSMODELSA
TIAAN @ICEMODELSCT
HUI  @MYFRIENDNED
AZAH  @MYFRIENDNED

STILL LIFE

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.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers
Earrings, Lorne, Waistcoat, KLûK CGDT,Top, Hannah Lavery, Ring, Anvil&I, Pants, Selfi

“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

Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers
Above: Earrings, Anvil&I, Coat, Kat Van Duinen, Culotte Jumpsuit, Merwe Salt, Autumn Sandal, Hannah Lavery
Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers

“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

Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers
Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers
Above: The Iris Bag with shearling, Thalia Strates. Left: Blouse, KLûK CGDT, Jumpsuit & Angle Shoe, Hannah Lavery, Ceramic bowl, Dayfeels

“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

Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers
Above: The Mini Bucket Bag, Thalia Strates

“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

Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers
Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers
Above: Earrings, Lorne, Waistcoat, Selfi, Ring, Anvil&I, Satin Jumpsuit, Merwe Salt, Fold Over Mule, Hannah Lavery. Left: Earrings, Lorne

“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

Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers
The Mini Bucket Bag, Thalia Strates

“We aim to inspire slow fashion and pride in conscious consumption through the creation of meaningfully made products.” – Thalia Strates

Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers
Above: The Athena Bag, Thalia Strates. Right: Earrings, Lorne Jumpsuit, Selfi, Ring, Anvil & I, Suede Vellies, Hannah Lavery, Art, Dayfeels
Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers

“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

Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers
Right: Earrings, Lorne, Above: Maxi Shirt Dress & Jumpsuit, Merwe Salt, Mali Beltbag, Thalia Strates, Ring, Anvil&I, Suede Vellies, Hannah Lavery
Africa Is Now Magazine - Still Life, support local designers

“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

GINGER MARY

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.

Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths
Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths
Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths
Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths
Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths
Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths
Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths
africa_is_now-gingermary-fashion-22
Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths
Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths
Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths
Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths

Ginger Mary is exclusively available at selected Truworths stores. Shop the brand here.

Africa Is Now Ginger Mary, MICHAEL OLIVER LOVE, truworths

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

MODELS:
LEBO MLYUMKISI – ICE GENETICS
TONI OLOKO – BOSS MODELS

PRODUCTION:
PRODUCER: NEIL ROBERTS – HERO
ASSISTANT PRODUCER: JULIE ASSRTS – HERO
ASSISTANT PRODUCER: CATE ROCHAT – HERO
DRIVER: XOLANI

STATE OF FLOW

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.

Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative

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.’

Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative
Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative

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.’

Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative
Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative
Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative

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.’

Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative
Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative
Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative

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.’

Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative
Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam, Chrisna de Bruyn and WeAreCreative

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.’

Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam
Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam

‘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.’

Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam
Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam

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.’

Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam
Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam

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.’

Africa Is Now Magazine - State Of Flow by OneIam

FASHION FEATURE
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

VIDEOGRAPHY
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

RICH MNISI

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.

Africa Is Now - Rich Mnisi

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.

Africa Is Now - Rich Mnisi
Africa Is Now - Rich Mnisi
Africa Is Now - Rich Mnisi

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.

Africa Is Now - Rich Mnisi

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.

Honest

And how does the Rich Mnisi brand fit into this? 

My work is based off lived experiences.

Africa Is Now - Rich Mnisi
Africa Is Now - Rich Mnisi
africa_is_now-richmnisi-fashion-08

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.

Africa Is Now - Rich Mnisi

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.

Africa Is Now - Rich Mnisi

PHOTOGRAPHER:  AART VERRIPS  LUSTRE REDHOTOPS
STYLING:  CHRISNA DE BRUYN  WWW.CHRISNADEBRUYN.COM
MODEL:  NYAGUAA  FABULOUSMODELS.COM
MAKE UP:  LYNN KENNEDY  REDHOTOPS

LOCATION:  DE BRUYN KLEIN PARADYS  & ZEBRA COUNTRY LODGE

INTERVIEW:  NICOLA COOPER  WWW.NICOLACOOPER.CO.ZA