JOHANNESBURG - The country's best-dressed man is an entrepreneur.
Menzi Mcunu says he is inspired by the “disruptive” way of thinking championed by American former drug trafficker Frank Lucas and assassinated human rights activist Malcolm X.
Mcunu, who is originally from Johannesburg but is currently based in Cape Town, was last month announced as the GQ Best Dressed Man of the Year and the 2017 Jameson Select Reserve Man of Character. The 21-year old is the founder of African lifestyle brand Afrocentric Gentlemvn, which makes bespoke suits for men and is focused on luxury content creation, and sartorial and entertainment consulting.
The self-proclaimed dandy, who matriculated from Johannesburg’s prestigious St John’s College in 2014, said he started the promising company in 2013. Mcunu, whose made-to-measure suits retail from R6500 up to R20 000, says he was inspired by dandyism and that he wanted people to take him seriously when looking at him.
“I took a trip to India with my family in 2013,” he explains, “ and when I was there I learned about custom-made suits, so I thought I could make my own suits. In South Africa, I realised there was a gap as there were no custom-made suits.”
Afrocentric Gentlemvn, he says, is for a forward-thinking gentleman who is a global citizen but still very much a man of Africa.
“In 2014, I sold suits to some of my matric colleagues. I was obviously very young to entrepreneurship, but I went ahead and learnt more about production lines and profit margins. Through that process it got better and better,” says Mcunu.
When asked about the alphabet “v” in Gentlemvn, Mcunu, who is a student at Vega School of Brand Leadership in Cape Town, says: “It’s a branding move to look unique because I wanted my company to stand out.” Mcunu says he feels incredible to be the GQ Best Dressed Man of the Year and the 2017 Jameson Select Reserve Man of Character.
“I have my own tailors in my Johannesburg office. Our suits retail from R6500 all the way to R20 000, depending - obviously - on what you choose, in terms of fabric and other details.
I want to expand and reach all my clients in smaller cities around the country. When I have achieved that then I’m going to focus on expanding my operations to Tanzania and the East African bloc because I have some networks there,”he says.
Mcunu speaks passionately about the Afro-dandy movement, which he proclaims he is part of, saying: “We seek to relate our stories through the movement. It’s basically an attempt to try and redefine the different types of masculinity. Dandyism is the pursuit of elegance in all forms of living and the phenomenon is growing rapidly in South Africa.”
He is now setting his sights on establishing a foundation that would provide mentorship to up and coming entrepreneurs and young men, and talks centred around redefining black masculinity.
Mcunu stresses that when he says he’s inspired by legendary American gangster, Lucas, he is not talking from a moral point of view.
Lucas, 87, operated in New York City’s neighbourhood of Harlem during the 1960s and 1970s and was notoriously known for cutting out middlemen in the drug trade and buying heroin from his source in the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia.
The 2007 biographical crime film American Gangster is fictionally based on Lucas’s criminal career.
“I’m certainly inspired by his disruptive and innovative way of thinking, if one looks from the business aspect and not from a moral question,” says Mcunu.
He admits that he has very strong political views. “I’m very pro-Black. I like Franz Fanon and Malcolm X because they redefined how blacks are viewed. I subscribe to a lot of their views, such as the decolonisation of the mind to change the material conditions of black people.”
- BUSINESS REPORT