SA Menswear Week, highlights so far.

FB Pic 1  Chulaap by Chu Suwannapha showcased at Season 1..jpg

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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Happy Socks has the world at their feet

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With their colourful and quirky designs, it’s no wonder brand Happy Socks is a global phenomenon. Socks are no longer a muted clothing accessory; they have become staple pieces that breathe life into any outfit.

Whether you are dressing for the office, the gym, a night out or the beach, it’s highly likely you will be wearing a pair of socks.

Although most people still prefer traditional socks that come in single colours of white, red, black and green, bright colours and busy patterns are fashionable.

Happy Socks are the leaders in the market at the moment, offering a variety of designs and colours.

(L-R) Viktor Tell and  Mikael Soderlindh.jpg

Happy Socks founders Viktor Tell and Mikael Soderlindh

From the beginning, the global founders of the Swedish brand, Viktor Tell and Mikael Soderlindh, wanted to create a brand that would spread and inspire happiness throughout the world. They tell me this when I meet them in Woodstock for our interview.

They were recently in the country to launch their “Local Hero” special edition, their biggest collaboration so far, where they worked with creatives, bloggers and artists from 15 countries to design socks inspired by their work.

Like their product, they are easy-going and their personalities are infectious.

“After eight years in the business, we are now sold in 90 countries worldwide, and with this collaboration, we really wanted to express our gratitude,” says Tell, Happy Socks creative director.

“We enjoy every country that we visit and we see the creative expressions all around, and we wanted to take that into our company, because it is not only based in Stockholm, but we are a global thing,” says Tell.

“We wanted to see what the local creatives could do with our blank canvas of cotton socks. We gave them carte blanche to create whatever they wanted. That is what we have always done with international collaborations;”

“Not only did they want to engage with us because we have a nice product to work with, but we gave a huge opportunity to the local market and brands, and some would have never had the opportunity to be exposed to so many countries,” he says.

Happy Socks x Falko One.jpg

Happy Socks x Falko One 

South African graffiti artist Falko One was the chosen local hero.

Soderlindh and Tell are long-time friends who worked together before starting the business.

“We are a bit of a ying and a yang, which is part of our success. Soderlindh is the driving force of the business, while I am on the creative side.

“We came up with the business because we enjoyed wearing socks and we saw that no one gave love to the accessory no one really focused on it. What was available at the market at the time was mostly cheap socks with poor designs,” says Tell.

 

“We also started the business because we love to travel. We have almost 200 days of travelling a year, so that gives us a lot of inspiration from meeting people from around the world it’s super fun.

“I get inspiration from all over and we try not to follow trends. We see socks as more of a design item than a fashion item,which means that we can go the wrong way and it doesn’t have to be too precise. Our hunch has turned out good so far,” Tell says.

Soderlindh adds: “Tell has a huge ability when it comes to designs and patterns and working with illustrations. I think that the big difference with our product is how we put colour together, and that has been one secret of our success. Our designs always stand out in the socks department. A couple of years back we had booming competitors, but now we beat them when it comes to really strong designs,” he says.

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The brand have now added underwear to their range – colourful briefs for men and women.

“We felt that we wanted to spread happiness and design from our socks, so why not underwear as well? It was a natural development of our brand socks and underwear go well together,” says Tell.

“The name ‘Happy Socks’ is self-explanatory, we want you to be happy when you wear Happy Socks. We want to brighten up your day almost every morning.

“When you put on our underwear and socks, we want the moment to feel good and make you stay with a smile on your face for the rest of your day. Ever since day one we have been met with a smile when we talk about our brand, and that is what we want to keep,” says Tell.

“I am still so impressed when we travel the world and I see a person wearing our socks, it’s really crazy. Whether we are in Tokyo, Cape Town or New York, whenever we see someone walking down the street wearing our brand, it’s a fun and proud moment,” he says.

“Our customer is hard to put in a box,” says Soderlindh.

“This person is either a 25-year-old fashionista, a businessman, it’s a grandma buying presents for her grandkids, it’s a teenager. It’s such a wide variety of people and we would rather say that our target group is a colourful person who loves design,” he says.

Their advice for future entrepreneurs who would like to start a similar business venture?

Tell says: “I would have never been able to start the business alone.

“I think you should find someone to do it with. The great part of our success is that we have been focusing on the same goal but we have done it in two different directions. Find a partner that has another take on what you want to to,” he says.

Soderlindh adds: “Tell and I work with several start-ups today. One step is that you need to fully commit to a start-up. Rule number one, you should not do it on the side. If you want to do something, quit your job, take a loan and start it.

“You need to take a risk for it to be successful because if you don’t take the risk, you are not forcing yourself to succeed,” Soderlindh says.

“And of course you need to make sure that the business idea that you have is going to be profitable business. You don’t start something because you are passionate about it. It helps, being in the business with the right partner.

“South Africa is a very colourful country and we think that is why Happy Socks is relatively successful here.

“We’re not going to tell anyone what colour or design to wear you need to find your own way of wearing our socks in the designs that catches your eye,” Soderlindh adds.

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on January 24 2017. 

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

And visit http://www.IOL.co.za  thttp://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style to check out more of my work. 

Italian flair for Madiba Shirt

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The Presidential  brand is known for its luxurious, hand-painted silk batik prints and attention to detail at every level of each garment’s creation. But for the most part, it’s
known for its connection to Nelson Mandela.

Mandela made the “Presidential Shirt”, fondly known as the Madiba Shirt, world famous when he wore one presented to him by brand founder Desré Buirski following his election to office in 1994.  On Friday, Presidential embarked on a new direction with a debut women’s collection for the African queen.

The “Presidential Queen” AW17 collection, together with their latest menswear range, was unveiled at SA Fashion Week (SAFW) in Joburg’s Hyde Park Corner. Collaborating with Italian- born designer Pietro Giannuzzi, the presentation included 35 looks designed and made in South Africa.

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The intricate detailing of the embellishments, beadwork and embroidery on each garment was impressive, as models walked down the catwalk in exquisite gowns, bomber and biker jackets, kaftans, pants, and silk and cotton shirts in African and Eastern prints.

The collection showed African haute couture and ready-to-wear pieces could be mixed and matched separates or worn as sets.

Speaking after the show at a gathering of the Presidential team and special guests, brand founder Desré Buirski explained how Presidential was evolving to cater for men and women while sticking to its original aesthetic.

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“I am so proud and so excited to be working with Giannuzzi… he is taking the brand to the next level. He is inspired by the brand and the history of the shirts being connected to the history of Madiba,” says Desré Buirski

“What is amazing is how he has managed to use our fabrics, not only combining Eastern fabrics with African, but also that he has brought in his Italian skill of design,”she says

“As much as he is proud to be associated with the brand, we are proud to have
him on board with us. The existing team will remain and the heart of the shirts will remain. However, as we grow we will add new collections;

“We are so proud that we can represent the country in such a beautiful way. We have been asked for years to produce womenswear and I never really wanted to do shirts for women as it was going to be too much of a duplication;

“We felt that this was the right time as we had Giannuzzi on board to bring in the Italian flavour with our fabrics, beaded details… the collection is absolutely stunning,” says Desré Buirski.

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About his involvement, Giannuzzi says that being part of the already established brand as they embarked on a new journey and being entrusted with the task of producing the brand’s first women’s collection had been a huge honour.

“I was very proud to be asked to be part of the team and to design the ‘Presidential Queen’ collection. Before Presidential used to sell only shirts and now you can find jackets, dresses… It is a brand that is evolving;

“It is becoming younger, but is still inspired by the past and the great man Mandela,” says Pietro Giannuzzi.

Another milestone for Presidential is the bulk of their production is now being done by a local factory, thereby playing a big role in supporting the local fashion industry.

“Presidential Group took a decision to make the Presidential Shirt range in
South Africa two years ago. Before that, the shirts were made abroad, now 80 percent of the shirts are made in Cape Town at Lontana Clothing.

“Our support of the factory has ensured it has continued operations in a very challenging economic environment,” he says.

“The craftwork in our range showcases South African talent. The skills are here, they just need to be found, harnessed and given an opportunity to shine,”says Pietro Giannuzzi

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Buirski adds: “What is also fabulous for us is that we are not just aiming to be a wonderful brand, we want to keep Nelson Mandela’s legacy alive. And in order to do that, it is not just by wearing shirts and these beautiful fabrics, but to actually create jobs by giving local
fashion a bit of a boost.

“We are still doing all the shirts and we will keep the shirts coming in all different styles and fabrics, but adding other pieces makes the collection a bit broader.

“We felt that this was the right time because the brand needed to evolve and we would really love at some point to take the brand to the rest of Africa”

“But we first had to introduce the new collection because this is the heartbeat of our home and the heartbeat of Nelson Mandela,” says Buirski.

Celebrities and fashion influencers who attended the Presidential showcase included stylist Dumi Gwebu, TV presenter Mthoko Mkhathini and a photographer from According To Jerri, who all wore printed Madiba Shirts.

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The Presidential team:  Pietro Giannuzzi and Desré Buirski.

Connect with them at :Website: http://www.presidential.co.za
Instagram: @presidentialshirt
Facebook: Presidential Shirt
Twitter: @presidentialAfr

This piece was first published in the Cape Argus on September 28 2016. 

Nomadic culture inspires Ricci Janse van Rensburg latest designs

Photo by Sivan Miller

Photo by Sivan Miller

The brand  Ricci JvR is well known in South African fashion circles. Now the fashion brand by Cape Town designer Ricci Janse van Rensburg has gone global, launching its “Neo Native” collection with New York-based fashion tech lab Nineteenth Amendment.
Created as an alternative to traditional industry business models, the Brooklynbased high-fashion platform connects emerging designers from around the world with consumers and retailers. The garments are sold online and are manufactured in the US on behalf of the
designers. Janse van Rensburg answers questions about herself, her brand and her “Neo Native” collection.

Ricci

Ricci

Why did you become a fashion designer? Since the age of 12, I have been dreaming up my own designs and walking around with a sketch pad drawing outfits for my friends and princess dresses for my Barbies. I guess to me it was never really a decision I had to make, it was made for me way before I even realised it. I simply stepped into something that has always been a big part of my life and I was lucky enough to make a career out of it. I have always been mesmerised by fashion – the way it can influence how you feel, how you carry yourself and simply how you can express yourself through clothing.

How did you develop your interest in fashion design?  Curiosity, creativity, a need to express myself, passion and a fascination with people all played a large part in developing my interest in fashion.

Also, the fact that fashion has the ability to boost your confidence, change your mood and the way other people perceive you, what is socially acceptable. All these elements further fuelled my fascination and passion for this industry.

What was your first job? In retail at a clothing boutique in Tygervalley Centre. I only worked there over weekends and some afternoons. I worked there for almost three years. The job helped me to understand the retail side of the industry a lot better.

Photo by Sivan Miller

Photo by Sivan Miller

What were your inspirations for the designs you created for Nineteenth Amendment? The nomadic lifestyle has always been an underlying source of inspiration to me. I am mesmerised by the raw beauty of nomadic tribes/cultures and exploration of the unknown.

“To me, strong lines, textures and layering played an extremely important role in the design of this collection. I like to incorporate an unexpected element when styling to keep it more interesting.”

The nomadic influence can definitely be seen in my garments especially in the finishes and focus on detailing.

For this collection, I focused on comfortable clothing – layered and styled in an effortless way. The silhouettes are relaxed, soft and draped with roomy, romantic volume.

How did you select the materials and colours you used? It is all about combining textures. I looked for unusual fabrics and trims to complement the vision I have created for the collection. With this collection I tried to choose as many environmentally friendly fabrics as possible.

Describe the woman you envision wearing your clothes? I don’t design for a specific woman in mind, but I design various pieces and then combine and style it to create the final look. The design process and realisation of each piece is important. Therefore I focus on individual pieces at a time. I do, however, try to design diverse pieces, ensuring that no matter your taste – you would find something in the collection that would suit your style.

“It is important to make every client who wears my garments feel amazing and confident.”

Who are your most influential fashion designers and why? Locally, Joburg-based designer Suzaan Heyns. I just love her conceptual approach to fashion. Internationally, brands like Balmain and Viktor & Rolf inspire me for their exceptional concepts, intellectual approach to fashion and unconventional elements.

Photo by Sivan Miller

Photo by Sivan Miller

Of all the creations you’ve created, does one stand out as your favourite and why? I don’t have an all-time favourite piece. I guess this is purely because I always try to challenge myself to grow, to become better, to expand my comfort zone, to experiment and to give my best. Each piece represents a different stage of the design process and therefore I consider them all valuable as an ongoing design process.

Who’s your style icon, and why? Businesswoman and interior designer Iris Apfel. Her confidence, boldness, refreshing and fun approach to fashion is simply captivating. I figure that when it comes to getting imaginative, there’s no-one quite as inspiring as this 94-year-old.

Sivan Miller

Photo by Sivan Miller

What’s the best part of working in fashion? Always being able to be creative, being surrounded by creative and like-minded people and to have the freedom to express myself through every garment that I design. The entire process from researching trends, finding inspiration, designing and manufacturing to shooting campaigns and seeing clients wearing my designs.

What do you think of the talent of young South African designers currently in the industry and who are some of your favourites?

“There are more than a few incredibly talented designers in South Africa with very strong aesthetic signatures.”

Some of my favourite of the new generation of designers are Selfi, Lara Klawikowski, Adriaan Kuiters, Shana Morland and MaXhosa by Laduma.

What can be done to encourage people to buy local or support local designers? We have a lot of talent, enough to compete with international fashion designers; it is just less explored and exposed.

“The entire world looks at Africa for inspiration… why not use this to our advantage?”

It will largely benefit our country not only financially, but also mentally, if people start appreciating our diverse culture, authenticity and everything we have to offer. It’s about creating conscious consumers and understanding where your clothing comes from, and also believing in the designers behind it.

Photo by Sivan Miller

Photo by Sivan Miller

What are your plans for the Ricci JvR brand? My focus is on developing my brand into a more established and recognised label, both nationally and internationally, and maybe opening a boutique at a later stage and expanding on my current collection.

For now I will be working on new collections for Nineteenth Amendment and continue working with my clients here in South Africa.

What do you think of eco-fashion? 

“The fashion industry leaves behind a huge environmental footprint, from the pesticides used in growing cotton and the leached chemicals from the toxic dyes, to the landfill impact of clothes that wear out and the energy required to produce each piece.”

Buying clothes labelled under the Fair Trade Act is sustainable on several levels: you can be sure it was produced under safe working conditions, it’s sweatshop- free, and the person who made it earned a fair wage. Therefore, eco-fashion is very important for various reasons.

Photo by Sivan Miller

Photo by Sivan Miller

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on September 15 2015

New York Fashion Week Spring 2013/14 so far

It’s day 5 of the New York Fashion Week and editors, celebs, fashion bloggers, models alike are still going strong on energy drinks and designer H2O. My phone is literally glued to my hand as I troll Instagram and twitter for live feeds on the shows and after parties.

So far, designers revealed cropped tops, bold and clashing prints, short flouncy skirts, lace and sheer panelling, denim, florals, true blues, slim cigarette pants, neo-geo and my favourite trend right now, monochrome. It also looks like we will be colour-blocking for a few more seasons.

The materials are light, stretchy, flesh-revealing…perfect for a hot Spring day, with leather/faux leather inserts here and there. Here are my top pics so far.

Monique Lhuillier Spring 2014

Monique Lhuillier Spring 2014

Monique Lhuillier Spring 2014

Monique Lhuillier Spring 2014

details @ Victoria Beckham Spring 2014

details @ Victoria Beckham Spring 2014

details @ Victoria Beckham Spring 2014

details @ Victoria Beckham Spring 2014

 Victoria Beckham Spring 2014

Victoria Beckham Spring 2014

DKNY Spring 2014

DKNY Spring 2014

DKNY Spring 2014

DKNY Spring 2014

DKNY Spring 2014

DKNY Spring 2014

DKNY Spring 2014

DKNY Spring 2014

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014

Edun Spring 2014

Edun Spring 2014

 

Edun Spring 2014

Edun Spring 2014

 

Edun Spring 2014

Edun Spring 2014

Edun Spring 2014

Edun Spring 2014

Alexander Wang Spring 2014

Alexander Wang Spring 2014

Y-3 Spring 2014

Y-3 Spring 2014

Spring 2014 Ready-to-Wear Marissa Webb

Spring 2014 Ready-to-Wear Marissa Webb

Spring 2014 Ready-to-Wear Marissa Webb

Spring 2014 Ready-to-Wear Marissa Webb

Christian Siriano Spring 2014

Christian Siriano Spring 2014

Naomi Campbell doing it for Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014

Naomi Campbell doing it for Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2014

Venexiana  SS 2014

Venexiana SS 2014

Prabal Gurung Spring 2014

Prabal Gurung Spring 2014

Details, Helmut Lang Spring 2014

Details, Helmut Lang Spring 2014

Tracy Reese Spring 2014

Tracy Reese Spring 2014

Derek Lam Spring 2014

Derek Lam Spring 2014

Derek Lam Spring 2014

Derek Lam Spring 2014