Lukhanyo Mdingi wins prestigious Amiri Prize

Bongeziwe Mabandla in Lukhanyo Mdingi. Picture: Instagram.

Bongeziwe Mabandla in Lukhanyo Mdingi. Picture: Instagram.

Published Oct 31, 2023


While South Africans are rejoicing over the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup win, Cape Town-based fashion designer Lukhanyo Mdingi is also flying the South African flag high.

Mdingi, whose brand focuses on telling African stories through sustainable fashion, has been announced as the Amiri Prize winner.

The Amiri Prize is an inclusive annual award and incubator established to encourage, nurture and showcase up-and-coming talent from fashion and fashion-adjacent fields that otherwise might not have their voices heard.

Mdingi, who wowed the judges with his meaningful and intelligent designs, was up against several designers from across the globe, including Maxwell Osborne of anOnlyChild, Keith Herron of Advisry and Grace Ling of Grace Ling, all from the US.

Luke Zhou and Maike Huang of LUKEWARMPEOPLE and Li Gong of 8ON8 from China were also eyeing the award, as were Canada’s Dorian Who of Dorian Who and Italy’s Abdel El Tayeb of El Tayeb Nation.

Mdingi expressed his gratitude at winning the Amiri Prize, which is his second international award.

Burkina by Lukhanyo Mdingi. Picture: Casper Kofi.

“We’re incredibly proud to be the recipient winner of this season's Amiri Prize 2023. To be under the aegis of this institute is a true reflection of what it means to be of service and purpose to others.

“I can express that the LM Team and community-at-large are thankful to the jury members, the Amiri Group and Mike Amiri himself for the selection.

“To our contemporary peers who were part of this season’s finalists, your unique point of view shared within the landscape of design and culture is important – I see you, and I look forward to your perennial rise on the journey ahead,” he said.

In 2021, he was the joint winner of the special Karl Lagerfeld Prize, following Sindiso Khumalo’s win in 2020. And getting another international recognition means he and his team are on the right track.

“To my LM Studio, cabinet of friends and collaborators, your continuous support, guidance and belief have been immeasurable; through the trajectory of establishing the foundation of the LM label, the experience has been unmatched.

It's your continuous presence that has inspired and allowed me to consistently persevere with the intentional work of our label, Lukhanyo Mdingi. Thank You,” he said.

Mdingi’s awards prove that South African designers are making their mark in international spaces.

Thebe Magugu and he have a lot in common. Not only are they collecting international wins like infinity stones but they are consistent in sticking to their brand ethos of putting African fashion forward with sustainability.

In 2019, Magugu made history as the first African designer to win the LVMH Prize, a French multinational luxury goods conglomerate head-quartered in Paris and the most sought-after stamp of approval for luxury goods, globally.

A Lukhanyo Mdingi suit. Picture: Instagram.

That opened many doors for him, granting him opportunities to showcase at international fashion shows such as Paris Fashion Week and collaborating with the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to have his “Girl Seeks Girl” dress from A/W18’s HOME ECONOMICS collection, in collaboration with Phathu Nembwili, at the museum.

“Proud to announce that The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has acquired our ‘Girl Seeks Girl’ Dress from A/W18’s HOME ECONOMICS collection ‘to preserve it as an example of outstanding contemporary design’.

“This dress - done in collaboration with artist Phathu Nembwili, who creates beautiful and celebratory illustrations of women - has always been incredibly special to me.

“A woman leans on to the shoulders of another, which - at a difficult time in South Africa’s current history - signifies that women need one another now more than ever because there is a war that rages against them,” said Magugu at the time.

Mmuso Maxwell also won an international award. In 2022, they were announced as the winner of the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation by the Woolmark Company for their “Ukholo - Faith” collection inspired by the theatrics used by deceitful religious leaders in South Africa.

Back to Mdingi, as the winner of the second edition of the AMIRI Prize, the designer walks away with 100,000 USD (R1 884 280,00) and a one-year-long personal mentorship with founder and creative director, Mike Amiri.