The inaugural South African Menswear Week entered a somewhat dense market with one key message: menswear matters and is growing. Where other fashion week organisations choose to schedule menswear shows in line with their female counterparts, SAMW has chosen to further blaze the trail set alight by the successful London Collections: Men, and create hashtag-worthy moments direct from its runways in Cape Town.
Menswear, internationally and locally, has crept out of the shadows and both investors and consumers have taken notice. Below are 10and5’s highlights from the collections seen over the 5th, 6th and 7th of February.
Day 1 saw Rich Mnisi produce his finest collection yet. The word ‘Oath’ can be defined as a vow or a promise, and one could see that he lives up to this word through his dedication to cutting edge design. Luxurious accents of silk and satin were present throughout the presentation, grounded in the functionality of superb cuts and tailoring. Outerwear pieces such as bomber jackets and parkas had statement factor, where proportion and fit were exemplary. Colour was far more present than previous collections, where blues, greens and yellows were used to great effect. Rich is slowly but surely creating an identity for himself through garments that consumers desire but that still retain a unique brand identity and sensibility, are styled to perfection and walked by a fantastic selection of models.
Lukhanyo Mdingi’s show began with the models floating down the runway in crisp white ensembles, and the attention of all attendees was captivated by a tour de force of effortless chic and sophistication. One felt the character of a cosmopolitan traveller throughout the collection that felt somewhat resortwear, where a strong presence of grey and other monochromatic accents and bold luxurious accessories gave relation to no specific location but more of a transient context. This was taken to new heights by impeccable styling, which gave each look some functionality. Texture and proportion played well off one another, where cropped patterned trousers complemented the heavy knits and military style suede-like utility jackets.
After Jenevieve Lyons’ recent string of success this young designer seems on a trajectory towards greatness. Her latest menswear offering at SAMW saw her avant garde aesthetic refined in a more minimalistic approach, where streetwear accents and strong photographic print elements gave the pieces some wearability. Though her youth may be misleading, Jenevieve has already crafted a strong identity for her eponymous label and this latest collection is an evolution of this.
When one of South Africa’s top longstanding designers produces a show, people take notice. Craig Port kept their attention with his recent collection entitled ‘Black Moon Rising’. Inspired by Japanese culture and aesthetic ‘Black Moon Rising’ sought to bring ancient Eastern philosophy to a modern context. Where classic outerwear pieces like blazers and jackets had an Eastern twist these were grounded in the sense of strong male bravado. Mr. Port produced the most theatrical of all the presentations at SAMW, where the concrete floor of the runway had been adjusted with ominous black squares giving the space more drama. Craig Port then ended with a legion of models walking down the runway all in a uniform of black trousers, karate belts and exposed torsos.
Probably one of the most anticipated shows of SAMW, the stakes were high for Chu Suwannapha’s first collection under the label Chulaap. Known to many for his own unique sense of style and love for prints, the collection was everything that was expected, and yet so much more. Prints were featured heavily throughout the collection. Contrasting prints were styled together in looks that seem to carve an identity and future for the brand. However it was through Chu’s masterful move of bringing a 3D aspect to some of these pieces, where origami-like shapes had been sewn into shirts and jackets, which gave the pieces additional character. Knitwear such as ponchos and cardigans, cut in unique forms, continued with origami imagery and brought some softness to collection.
Chulaap was successful in many ways and for many reasons: from the styling to the utterly desirable custom-made Simon & Mary hats on each model. But regardless of all of this, it was Chu’s ability to find a balance of cultures and formulate these into well-tailored and cut garments that made this collection outstanding.