Last weekend, one of the parking lots at the Mall of Africa was closed and turned into an auditorium for South African Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2024 collections.
For three days, more than 30 designers took to the runway to showcase their collections to the media, the who’s who of the South African fashion industry and the public.
Established and emerging designers once again proved that the South African fashion industry is in capable hands.
Some designers whose collections stood out the most on day two were Mantsho, Black Coffee, Viviers Studio and Franc Elis.
Owned by Palesa Mokubung, Mantsho is a womenswear brand that prides itself on authentic stylish garments for an elegant woman.
When I finally pinned her down after the show she explained that she didn’t have a name for her collection, but by the end of our conversation, she had come up with: “Conscious Collection.”
This collection opened her eyes to the importance of being conscious as a fashion designer. The fashion industry contributes a lot to environmental waste.
“I was inspired by my trip to Portugal and all the factories, manufacturers and textile looms I went to. It just gave me a new love and a new appreciation for my industry. Fashion is such a serious business and a business that can cause so much harm and waste to the planet.
“When I came back, I revisited the collection I thought I would showcase, and I approached it with a consciousness of making it less harmful.
“I spent a whole day at a factory that recycles scraps. I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s probably as big as this mall. They’re processing waste fabric to make yarn and threads.
“It blew my mind. At the airport, I took time to read about the ingredients in the fabrics I was using and I wasn’t okay with some of them. I need to process this one, it is the first time I’ve been conscious,” said Mokubung.
And just like that, her AW24 collection was named: “The Conscious Collection”.
This season, Jacques van der Watt, the founder of Black Coffee, played with some colours on his collection, “Reform”.
“In this collection, I worked a lot with upcycling, so I also like the cycle of a garment, the past, the garment and the future. For the colours, sponsored by Isuzu this season, I wanted to put something that felt more urban.
“I started with one colour and thought: ‘Let’s go a bit further’, and I ended with an array of colours supported by a lot of black and cream to balance the collection,” he said.
Lezanne Viviers, the founder of the brand, wanted her show to be a memorable one as she opened it by burning impepho (incense) to make way for her “ReTrace, Re-Memory, Re-Set, Re-Culture” collection, which made its debut at Milan Fashion Week last month.
“ReTrace, Re-Memory, Re-Set, Re-Culture represents key Viviers signature shapes and sculpted silhouette, this season re-imagined into the past-future.
“The trapeze shapes and silhouettes combined with our signature sculpted arch shapes, could be considered otherworldly or extraterrestrial in nature,” she said.
“The overall silhouette is powerful, yet not traditionally masculine, but rather more androgynous. The collection represents both the extreme masculine and the extreme feminine combined, commenting on the duality found within all of us.
“We visualise more inclusive shapes that are accommodating for most body types, disregarding gender.”
Fabrice Moyo, the creative director of the brand, showcased our favourite menswear range. Inspired by the military force, the collection, named “Sankara West”, was a combination of edgy, unique, and masculine.
“My main goal is always to redefine military wear, so that’s why you see the pocket detailing and the silhouettes. This one was more pronounced because I had to combine the French military look in the 20s to give it a streetwear feel for an ordinary man.
“I used a lot of cotton because I’m very concerned about pollution and sustainability. I use 100% cotton, which some of us dye, and I also use a bit of wool, all produced locally,” said Moyo.
What I noticed about the slits on the jackets was that they were thick, something very catchy and aesthetically pleasing.
“This is an African-inspired look, where the slit is on the side and not at the back like Western clothing, so I just made it more pronounced by putting the slits on the sides and giving them a more elegant look. It enhances masculinity and gives the man flexibility,” Moyo said.
South African Fashion Week AW24 ended on October 21.