News Brief

7 Emerging African Designers You Should Know

Through innovative strides and careful execution these womenswear and menswear designers are changing the way we see African fashion.

1. Thebe Magugu

Thebe Magugu is a young South African designer whose apparel is known for pushing the boundaries of couture, while empowering the women and men who wear his designs. Born in Kimberley, South Africa, Thebe’s first source of inspiration came from the women who played an instrumental role in his life. Although traditionally a womenswear brand, his experimental designs aim to blur the gender lines and create clothing that question social constructs of what it means to be masculine and feminine in African society.

His career truly began at the Lisof Fashion School in Johannesburg where he studied fashion and apparel design while contributing to publications like The Times and Flux Trends. Thebe was also selected for Design Indaba’s Emerging Creatives of 2017 program. His debut collection titled, “Geology,” premiered at South Africa’s fashion week earlier in the year and has since been featured in publications like Vogue. When speaking to Nataal about his inspiration behind the collection he states, "I started to imagine a woman taking to the great outdoors, to escape the burdens and noise of urban living." While he is only one collection into his career, he has already set the tone for young African designers pushing their brands beyond their immediate borders.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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