SA Menswear Week, highlights so far.

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A Chulaap by Chu Suwannapha design  showcased at Season 1. Photo by SIMON DEINER/SDR

Seeing a gap in the fast-growing category of menswear, fashion photographer Simon Deiner and businessman Ryan Beswick developed a platform that is now responsible for promoting menswear designers in Africa. Entering its fifth season, the LEXUS SA Menswear Week (Lexus SAMW AW’17) is the only menswear-focused fashion week on the continent.

Over the past four seasons, we have had an opportunity to witness some of the best in menswear by both emerging and established designers from around Africa, some of whom have gone on to gain international exposure. Rich Mnis, Jenevieve Lyons, Chu Suwannapha, Craig Jacobs, Orange Culture and Laduma Ngxokolo are now recognised internationally.
My highlights include the debut range of Chulaap by Chu Suwannapha showcased at season one. The styling, design and the prints show Suwannapha’s artistic aesthetic and his love for the colourful African continent.

Lukhanyo Mdingi’s androgynous collection of dark navy, blue and black made up of sheer silk and denim separates from season two remain fresh in my mind. The range brought forth the growing trend of gender-fluid fashion. The collaboration of Adriaan Kuiters and Jod Paulsen (AKJP) from season three showed that a meeting of two creative minds can lead to magic.

Lukhanyo Mdingi
A design by Lukhanyo Mdingi. Picture by : SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
For Deiner, there have been many highlights: “I remember the first season where we did a team photo at the end and there were about 50 people involved. And when we took the group photo at the SS17 collections last July we had just over 150 people in the pic. “Other highlights have been watching our young designers shine and grow into proper household names and along the way start businesses. I have also enjoyed seeing how men in general now perceive the concept of wearing locally made clothing as something they are proud to do,” Deiner says.
A lot of hard work and dedication are necessary for a designer to stand out from a saturated industry competing against cheap imports and fast fashion. Funding, production and affordable and quality fabrics are just some of the challenges that our young designers are facing, which play a hand in preventing them from maintaining profitable businesses.
Kim Gush
Kim Gush by SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
Kim Gush, owner and designer of Kim Gush apparel, adds: “I think local consumers still love to compare designers to big retailers, especially where price is concerned. We are still constantly faced with the snub at our price tags… consumers forget that the items aren’t mass produced, therefore you are receiving a unique piece. And at the same time you are supporting our local manufacturing industry – which to be honest, needs every tiny purchase to try to revive it.
“Buying local means you are helping in developing and bringing our industry to those ‘international’ levels you so dearly desire as well as keeping jobs going,” she says. “Take the time to get to know all those brands you watch at fashion week. A lot of people are just there for the social, but they forget the heart and soul that goes into every garment presented, the dreams the designers have for this industry to flourish,” she says. 
For Suwannapha, who will not be showcasing at Lexus SAMW AW’17, the fabrication and the manufacturing are problematic. “Hopefully, some of the courier companies will work with fabrics agencies towards bringing fabrics to minimal costs, or I might have to live with the high labour costs as long as I’m producing in South Africa,” he says. “(This year) is all about expanding and building my brand. Collaboration will be a part of my brand’s personality, which will be coming soon and will be available online in South Africa,” Suwannapha says.
FB  Pic 3  The collaboration of Adriaan Kuiters x Jod Paulsen from season 3.jpg
The collaboration of Adriaan Kuiters and Jod Paulsen from season three. Picture: SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
One of the youngest showcasing designers, Mzukisi Mbane of Imprint, adds: “When it comes to fashion week, I think we all take away what we want from it.“The fashion week benefits should always extend beyond the applause after a runway show. For instance, you get an opportunity to sell yourself to a wide audience that you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. “After my first runway show, I got invited to go to Ghana then Nigeria… I was instantly not just a South African brand, but a recognised African brand,”says Mbane.
Imprint
A Imprint by Mzukisi Mbane design. Picture by SIMON DEINER/SDR PHOTO
On what to expect at his showcase next week: “The collection is based on a fictional character I created. It’s an Ndebele man who decided to leave home and travel the world.
“The collection includes a lot of colour, oversized silhouettes, genderfluid pieces. Which is truly the Imprint Afro futuristic aesthetic… it expresses a free spirit which challenges made-up perfection. “As the collection is titled “I couldn’t be bothered”, one will take away whatever they want from the collection… and that will be okay,” he adds.
LEXUS SA Menswear Week will take place at The Palms in Woodstock on February 3 and 4 2017.
Tickets are available at http://www.webtickets.co.za.For a full schedule see : http://www.menswearweek.co.za/
See more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style

Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter: @Nontando58 https://www.instagram.com/nontando58/?hl=en

This piece was first published in the Weekend Argus (Sunday) on January 29 2017. 

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When fashion meets decor

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Eduan Roos, Tamara Chérie and Leandri de Leeuw collaborated for aCREATE and Chérie Spring/Summer 2016/2017. PICTURES: JOE DAN PHOTOGRAPHY

COLLABORATION is now a common buzzword in fashion, art and design. Brands,
creatives and influencers are coming together to share ideas… curating content that is specifically relevant for their consumers.

The latest collaboration is between creative décor specialists, Eduan Roos and Leandri de Leeuw of aCREATE, an award-winning contemporary readyto- wear brand, Tamara Chérie. The collaboration, which was part of aCREATE and Chérie Spring/Summer2016/17 showcase titled “A Common Thread”, was presented at the Roodebloem Studios in Woodstock last month. It saw the coming together of interior design and fashion in a beautifully curated way.

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The two brands’ aesthetic of muted palettes and minimal styles complemented each other well, expressing clean lines and refined silhouettes articulate in a chic modern attitude.

Previously part of The Aleit Group , Roos and De Leeuw recently ventured out on their own to form aCREATE, and over the past months have made a name for themselves as the go-to-designers for bespoke event experiences in Cape Town and Joburg. Their furniture pieces offer customised décor and accessories that interpret their vision for each unique
event.

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The local events industry has evolved over the years, with clients now demanding service that not only sets them apart, but also delivers enduring memories for their guests, Roos explains when I met him and De Leeuw at Chérie’s studio in Gardens.

Roos, a fashion designer by profession, says the slow living trend has spilled over from lifestyle to décor and design.

“There is a big Japanese influence in design at the moment… a sense of calmness in the furniture pieces. Such as using a statement piece as the focal point instead of cluttering the room with different types of furniture pieces; 

Décor design is heading to a clean and minimalist approach,” says Roos

De Leeuw continues: “Less is more at the moment. Also, people are now more aware than ever and conscious of their environment… People are more aware of the fact that there is a serious water shortage problem.

“We recently did an event where the clients specifically asked for organic materials instead of flowers… which is rare;” she says 

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About their bespoke pieces, Roos says they create functioning pieces meant to be admired.

“For us, it’s really about conceptualising a look for each event, tailoring it to fit in with your brand and vision. These days clients are so over-stimulated by picture-driven social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, that it’s key to get a sense of what the client wants and to interpret it in a way that communicates their vision and brand,” says Roos.

 

“Our aesthetic is calm, natural and none aggressive. We want the pieces in our collection to be calming in a sense and make it easy to fit any brief,” says Roos. 

 

The ottoman couch, sort of like a church bench meets a comfortable sofa, is a popular furniture piece at the moment. It’s slick, clean and a beautiful piece, says
Roos.

De Leeuw adds the niche market of interior design is so competitive that one has to stand out in order to survive.

“ You need to stand out, have a unique thing about you that will draw clients,”adds de Leeuw 

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Tamara Chérie Spring/Summer 2016/2017

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AWARD-WINNING designer, Tamara Chérie Dyson, has interned at Vivienne Westwood in London and won numerous design prizes, including the Elle Rising Star Design Award in 2014.

She started her design career last year building her brand and creating a successful diffusion line for Mr Price. In her relatively short career she has
been involved in fashion weeks such as Mercedes-Benz Africa Fashion Week
and Joburg Fashion Week.

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Her collection reflects a balanced sense of timeless elegance and current intuitive design, focusing on achieving impeccable quality and the perfect fit.

Confident and sophisticated, the brand’s collections offer clients an investment wardrobe of discreet indulgence and understated, effortless style.

She recently launched her SS’17 collection which is available at various boutiques in Cape Town and Joburg and also on online shopping platform Spree. She describes her design process as “methodical”.

“I design key silhouettes that I feel every woman will want in their wardrobe that season and then I build on that. I don’t really follow trends and fads. I design then I will sometimes research detailing to add to the collection… I usually follow my heart and it
works,” she says

The Tamara Chérie woman she designs with in mind is “confident, sophisticated and believes in investing in pieces that transcends seasons and fads. A woman who believes in high quality, good designs and good fabrics”, she adds.

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CREATIVE: Eduan Roos, Tamara Chérie and Leandri de Leeuw collaborated for aCREATE and Chérie Spring/Summer 2016/2017.

Connect with with me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @Nontando58
● aCreate at http://www.acreate.co.za/
● Twitter: acreate_za
● INSTAGRAM: acreate_za
● Tamara Chérie Dyson: Instagram:
@TamaraChérieOfficial

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on November 23 2016.