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Designer Thebe Magugu is re-defining fashion

Published May 18, 2018


Designer Thebe Magugu is re-defining fashion. Picture by Simon Deiner/SDR

South African designer Thebe Magugu came under my radar in 2017 during SA Fashion Week (SAFW) as part of the Woolworths’ Style By SA collection. His feminine silhouettes with a play of textures and detailing immediately caught my attention. His women’s ready-to-wear garments are functional while experimenting with tradition, art and design.

I chat to the Kimberley-born designer about his career, inspiration and the industry in general.

When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career as a designer? 

My subject matter in crèche often involved women in clothes. Obviously at that age, it was just red triangles on stick figures, but my mother saw this and bought me a massive sketch pad - it’s one of the most memorable gifts I’ve ever received because it became a sort of refuge for me.

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career, what would it be?

Believe in the importance and necessity of timing. Everything that is meant for you will come.

What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when starting out in the fashion industry? Saying “Yes” to everything. But now that I’m advancing in my career, I find myself having to say “No” quite a bit, which is the most important word in business. Stretching yourself too thin is detrimental to your company and your health.

Designer Thebe Magugu is re-defining fashion. Picture by Simon Deiner/SDR

What was the biggest inspiration behind your latest


The differences between men and women and how these differences look like together in one form.

What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?

We live in a time where being online and connected is crucial. Social media has its faults, but its ability to bring visibility to the smallest brands or people and very hidden parts of the world is what I find beautiful about it. I wouldn’t have been able to reach the people who I speak to had it not been for Facebook and


What is your favourite part about being a designer? 

Seeing how something goes from an abstract idea, into a second sketch, into a third form, and into something entirely different when put on people. That process is quite fascinating; seeing something morph from nothing.

Describe the Thebe Magugu customer in four words? 

Confident, smart, risk-taking and impassioned.

Designer Thebe Magugu is re-defining fashion. Picture by Simon Deiner/SDR

There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season. What advice would you give to young designers just starting out and hoping to make it in the industry? 

It is crucial to take things at your own pace. The pressure to follow “standard” practices on how to build and run a fashion business might be the reason you crash. As a young designer, I think creativity and alternative ways to get things to market are your best bets. Fashion Week is ex pensive. Going straight to Boutique is tricky - I think creating beautiful work on your own, shooting a beautiful and considered lookbook will let the industry come to you instead of killing yourself trying to appease everyone. I wish I had known that earlier - I think I spent a long time in my earlier days trying to impress people instead of just working and letting my ideas and clothes do all the talking.

What are three pieces every woman should have in her winter


An oversized coat, wide leg pants and a slim polo neck knit.

* Shop the Thebe Magugu collection online now at  

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