Style

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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Image courtesy of Daily Paper.

Daily Paper Enlists Ghanaian Artist David Alabo For New Tarot Card Capsule Collection

The streetwear brand's new line of t-shirts feature striking, Afro-Surrealist designs by Ghanaian artist David Alabo.

Amsterdam-based, African-owned streetwear brand, Daily Paper has released a new limited edition capsule collection in collaboration with Ghanaian visual artist David Alabo.

The Tarot Card collection of high end t-shirts is part of the brand's Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Each t-shirt features a unique design by Alabo "highlighting an Afro-Surrealism tarot card providing insight and guidance through symbolism and spiritual wisdom," according to a press release from Daily Paper. The designs reflect Alabo's artistic vision of using elements of fantasy and mysticism to critique African society.

"Daily Paper is dedicated to promoting African culture by honoring the past and its influence on their vision of the future," said the artist. "They push the boundaries and challenge the perception of Africa in the fashion world which is what I aim to achieve in the art world too. It just makes sense that we work together and inspire each other."

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Image courtesy of NASO.

Discover the Minimalist Designs of Nigerian-Owned Fashion Label NASO

They're set to launch their latest collection at Banana Republic this month.

NASO is a new fashion label founded by first-generation Nigerian-American Uyi Omorogbe, who has made it a point to place social impact and minimalist design at the center of the brand.

Influenced by African aesthetics and manufactured completely on the continent, the brand is invested in building schools in rural ares of Nigeria, and uses a percentage of its earnings in order to do so, says Omorogbe. The brand built its first school in the Nigerian village of Urhokuosa, where Omorogbe's father is from in 2019.

Now, NASO is expanding in a major way with a new partnership with fashion retailer Banana Republic. The line will launch at their flagship store in Manhattan later this month, and it's the first brand to have a pop-up at the store. The hope is that the collaboration will help further NASO's ethically-minded mission. "Our mission is simple: to produce great products, create economic opportunity, and empower the youth of Africa to change their communities and in the process, the world," says Omorogbe. "When our customers wear our clothing, we want them to have a feeling of empowerment, a feeling that makes them think, "Well done," or as we say in Nigeria, NASO."

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Art
Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

Spotlight: Nicole Rafiki's Images Merge the Contemporary with the Traditional to Challenge Stereotypes

Get familiar with the work of Norway-based Congolese visual artist Nicole Rafiki.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work. In our latest piece, we spotlight Nicole Rafiki, a Congolese visual artist who uses symbolism to challenge stereotypes in a critical way. Read more about the inspirations behind her work below, and check out some of her stunning images underneath. Be sure to keep up with the artist on Instagram and Facebook and her Rafiki Arts Initiative here.


How would you describe yourself as an artist?

As an interdisciplinary artist, I use symbolism to re-imagine and challenge the stereotypical depiction of spaces, contexts and the people who are affected by global migration. I view my work as a platform for dialogues about identity, fluidity, place, and belonging. As an artist with a diverse cultural, historic and artistic background, I use art to inform, engage and heal. Because it is too easy to fall into the trap of promoting idealism or clichés, I make it a point to be critical and analytical in my work.

What is the message behind your recent photo-series "The Crown"?

This work came about after I had been stuck in Lagos traffic for 2 hours, listening to a radio show about the role of women in the household. One middle-aged woman called in to say that a "proper woman has to be domesticated". Listening to that radio show just made it seem like, for many people, it doesn't matter how educated, professionally accomplished or otherwise successful a woman is as long as she does not have the required domestic skills required by the African society. The urban attire complemented by traditional African elements illustrates the double role that many young African women have in our communities. And yet, that point is made against a yellow backdrop, symbolizing our power, historical achievements, hope and optimism for the future.

As an African artist, what do you want to communicate with your art about the continent?

The core message in my art is the promotion of our personal and collective healing process. That is only possible if we all understand the importance of playing our part. I believe that this is a very important time to be active in the contemporary art field. We have reached a historical point where Africans from the continent and the diaspora are challenging the status quo in the art industry by creating their own platforms to discuss, share and challenge the dominating philosophical, artistic, political and cultural perspectives on art. We have the power, individually and collectively to create a different legacy for the next generation and have personally just begun exploring all the possibilities out there.

Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Mkono" (2018), in loving memory of my grandmother.Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Untitled" (2019), in loving memory of Benon Lutaaya. Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Not without my bags" (2019)Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Kadogo (2019)"Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Mwenye imani haitaji macho" (A man of faith needs no eyes), (2019). Model: AfrogallonismImage courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Crown" (2020)Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Crown" (2020). Model: Deborah Kandoua AffouéImage courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.


Nicole Rafiki merges contemporary and traditional visual art. "Kwabende" (2019)Image courtesy of Nicole Rafiki.

News Brief

South African Hip-Hop Producers Makwa and Lunatik Will Battle It Out on Instagram Live

Another exciting South African hip-hop IG Live battle is happening.

Makwa and Lunatik are the next pair of producers who will go toe to toe in an Instagram Live battle at 10 P.M. (SAST). Both producers are responsible for some of South Africa's biggest and era-defining hits. Makwa has produced most of Kwesta's biggest hits such as "Spirit" and "Vur Vai" among others. Lunatik has produced such monster hits as K.O's "Caracara," OkMalumKoolKat's "Amalobolo" and DJ Citi Lyts' "Vura." We know... we are getting goosebumps, too.

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