Each year, we come across talented young designers with a promising future in the fashion industry. They are creative and innovative and their designs trendy.
At the South African Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 23/24 in October 2023, I was mesmerised by the designs showcased by the Mr Price Scouting Menswear Competition finalists. They didn’t play, they slayed.
One of the designers who stole the show, was Robyn Agulhas, the founder of Sinchui, who won the competition. Her collection, “Football”, was sustainable and trendy.
In 2023, we saw the introduction of football gear as everyday wear. This came after many football fans showed a preference for wearing football jerseys over basic T-shirts.
This year, we are anticipating more collections inspired by football gear, and Agulhas is ahead of the times – she’s already done it.
At the fashion shows we attended in 2023, we saw other emerging designers who caught our eye. These are some of them:
Czene 24 by Lunga Cebekhulu
Calvin Lunga Cebekhulu’s Czene 24 is a brand to look out for. The designer, from eNquthu in Kwa-Zulu Natal, has a knack for telling his stories through fashion. In 2022, he released the collection “Are You Lost”? It follows the story of a boy trying to find himself.
“The whole concept is about a young boy trying to find himself in this world, finding out who he is. Growing up in a customary nature where he was taught how to behave as a man. He had to channel himself on how to create his own journey,” Cebekhulu said.
“My range consists of different colours, which describes the journey of a young boy who is a son of the soil.
“Black represents the hardship and battles he had to experience. Navy blue stands for the confidence he had to build to find himself.
“Violet is for the ambition he regains to upstate his royalty and pink stands for creating a sense of urgency, finding his joy through his journey.”
Abantu by Thandazani Nofingxana
There are many African prints in the world but how you layer and structure them sets you apart.
Nofingxana has a way of deciphering African stories using distinctive prints, which makes his designs unique.
As one of the AFI Fastrack finalists, Nofingxana showcased a head-turning collection, Sitha Aba, using modified African prints, Abantwana Bomgquba.
“At the core of our design philosophy is the elevation of South African cultural signifiers. Drawing inspiration from Xhosa beadwork pictorial figures, we find a fascinating narrative behind these semiotic symbols/systems.
“For instance, the motif of lively children at play represents the youthful spirit of young women. The skirt with shorter length symbolises the fountain of youth, as the legs are prominently showcased.
“This two-piece set is a celebration of our cultural heritage,” said Nofingxanga, describing one of the masterpieces from the Sithi Aba collection.
Mekhukhu by Botshelo Molete
Derived from the Sotho word, which means shack, Mekhokho is a fashion brand known for its quirky print designs characterised by simple line drawings of faces. Molete takes pride in creating designs using recycled fabric scraps.
She also makes handmade dolls in different skin tones and outfits.
Kulcha by Ayandiswa Ntombela
It was in 2018 when the idea to start Kulcha came about. Ntombelas has always loved fashion because her grandmother is a designer, so she grew up watching her, which fuelled her interest in fashion.
Her brand is about playing around with the concepts of tailoring and corsetry and incorporating them into street fashion.
In 2023, she showcased a collection, Kulcha-Scenes SS 24/25, at the Stadio Fashion Show.
“With inspiration from the WGSN trend Postmodern Safari, we developed this range with a theme that conjures up a new blend of luxury, utility and cultural celebration.
“With this collection, we aimed to bring a modern twist to outdoor wear, make it look as ‘street’ and edgy as possible,” she said.
House of Cash by Nthabiseng Mabe
Mabe is a self-taught designer from Kagiso, West Rand. She prides herself on creating ready-to-wear garments for fashion-forward people.
In November 2023, she showcased a collection, Y2K Punk, inspired by an anime called “Nana”. Mabe recently made her Soweto Fashion Week debut and will be releasing more collections this year.
Style by Ali
The brand is owned by Alison Versatile of Daveyton and makes unisex street wear. Alison won the Coca-Cola Emerging Designers Bloc competition at Soweto Fashion in November 2023.
His winning collection was made of recycled materials, including shopping bags turned into decorative detailing on some of the pieces.
This year, we anticipate more breathtaking collections, not only from these designers but also from more talented designers whose work speaks volumes for them.