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.