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5 Designers to Watch at South African Menswear Week SS16/17

Play close attention to these five designers at South African Menswear Week SS16/17 in Cape Town.

South African Menswear Week SS16/17 gets underway today. More than 55 of the top designers on the continent will descend upon Cape Town for four days of presentations, rail showrooms and catwalk shows at the Cape Town Stadium. There’s a lot going on at the biannual fashion event, which touts itself as the only stand-alone platform dedicated to the development and promotion of menswear within the continent. It can be overwhelming, but luckily we’ve picked out the labels you should pay extra careful attention to this week. These five designers are part of a creative class willing to take the reins of the global fashion industry.


Mai Atafo

Homebase: Lagos

Signature: Classic contemporary bespoke tailoring

Mai Atafo at Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2015. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Certified at the Savile Row Academy, Nigerian designer Mai Atafo is said to be the only bespoke suit tailor in Africa to incorporate central London’s long-established Savile Row tailoring tradition into his collections. His pieces are clean and contemporary in their designs, and created with African climates in mind. Atafo’s close attention to detail and knack for clean cut aesthetics, which extends to a wedding collection, have made Mai Atafo one of the leading menswear brands on the continent.

Mai Atafo at Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2015. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Mai Atafo at Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2015. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Magents

Homebase: Johannesburg

Signature: Afro-vintage street style

Magents at SA Menswear Week AW16. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

As legend has it, the story of Magents goes all the way back to one summer in the 90s when a group of young friends went into the streets and painted their orange, three-circled logo onto the walls, bridges, stations and stadiums of South Africa. Every three months, they’d go back and add the other elements of the Magents logo––three black gents and a letter “G.” In 1999, they began placing their mens and womens apparel in independent retailers throughout the country. Magents became a sensation, and in 2005 they extended their influence beyond national borders with launches in France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Japan, Canada, Vietnam and, more recently, the U.S. Their afro-vintage designs draw inspiration from music, South African culture and the late Nelson Mandela’s suave sense of style through his silk African-influenced shirts.

Magents at SA Menswear Week AW16. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Magents at SA Menswear Week AW16. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Lukhanyo Mdingi

Homebase: Cape Town

Signature: African contemporary

Lukhanyo Mdingi at SA Menswear Week SS16. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

With four collections already under his belt, Lukhanyo Mndingi, 24, is making strides in the industry. As a designer and creative his collections are nothing short of stunning. The East London-born, Cape Town-based fashion grad’s finely cut and refined pieces offer minimalist looks and elegant sophistication.

Lukhanyo Mdingi at SA Menswear Week SS16. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Lukhanyo Mdingi at SA Menswear Week SS16. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

RICH MNISI

Homebase: Johannesburg

Signature: Textured minimalism

Rich Mnisi at SA Menswear Week AW16. Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

RICH MNISI is the eponymous brand of LISOF graduate and 2014 Africa Fashion International Young Designer of the Year, Rich Mnisi. Mnsisi’s aesthetic explores modern culture and the treasures etched within African culture as well, incorporating the things he already takes interest in such as pop culture, music and film. He considers himself a musician as well and refers to his collections as albums. Mnisi’s Zulu-inspired menswear range was a big hit in autumn/winter 2016.

Rich Mnisi at SA Menswear Week AW16. Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Rich Mnisi at SA Menswear Week AW16. Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Nao Serati

Homebase: Johannesburg

Signature: Contemporary Athleisure

Nao Serati at SA Menswear Week AW16. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Founded in 2014, Neo Serati’s brand explores the restrictions of gender and sexuality. The LISOF graduate facilitates dialogue around intersectionality and challenges societal norms through his designs. “My clothes are informed by South African youth culture, picking up on visual cues, the rebellious attitude and spirit of innovation,” says Serati.

Nao Serati at SA Menswear Week AW16. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Nao Serati at SA Menswear Week AW16. Credit: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Stay tuned for our continuing coverage from SA Menswear Week SS16/17. Follow us on Instagram for on-the-ground updates.

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Photo by JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP via Getty Images.

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