Despite the restrictions and limitations that 2020 presented, there’s no stopping this group of SAFW New Talent Search Competition 2021 finalists. Their collections show a welcome and increasing move towards a slow fashion ethos of timeless designs and sustainable production.

SAFW New Talent Competition 2021 Finalists
From left to right. Stephanie Zaaiman wearing Fikile Sokhulu. Sikhokhele Tyhali wearing Michael Ludwig Studio. Esmerelda Mouton wearing Artho Eksteen. Anais Pretorius wearing Saint Vuyo. Rocklyn Sayers wearing Mc Alpine.

Fikile Zamagcino Sokhulu

SAFW New Talent Competition 2021 Finalists Fikile Sokhulu
Stephanie Zaaiman wearing Fikile Sokhulu

After receiving a National Diploma in Fashion Design from the Durban University of Technology, Fikile Sokhulu participated in the Durban University of Technology’s Rise of the OXX show at the South African Fashion Week in 2018 and was a New Talent Search finalist that same year.

The Fikile Zamagcino Sokhulu brand launched that same year. Fikile’s elegant design style is notably influenced by feminine fashion details reflected in the sophisticated silhouettes within the designs she creates. “This season’s collection is inspired by the Willow tree–especially by its remarkable ability to adapt and change to survive – and how planet Earth strives for an ecological balance within the forces of nature,” Fikile explains.

Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @sokhulufikile

Artho Eksteen

SAFW New Talent Competition 2021 Finalists Artho Eksteen
Esmerelda Mouton wearing Artho Eksteen

Graduating in 2018 from LISOF, Artho Helmuth Eksteen is the Creative Director and owner of brand Artho Eksteen, known for its offbeat design style, artisanal influences and maximalist approach. While the brand’s style is heavily influenced by history, drawing inspiration from fabrics to silhouettes, the designs focus on today’s demand for slow fashion, utilising ethical fabric sourcing methods and garment production in order to help establish and preserve ethical consumerism.

SAFW21 UPDATE: Artho Eksteen took home the prestigious SA Fashion Week New Talent Competition 2021 prize. Watch out for our upcoming feature shoot and interview with this amazing designer!

This season’s collection includes a multi-disciplinary approach, combining fine art and fashion design. “The collection’s inspiration is from the surrealist method of “Exquisite Corpse”, alternatively known as “Exquisite Cadaver”, whereby a collection of images or words is collectively assembled in order to reveal a completed artwork,” Eksteen says.

Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @arthoeksteen

Michael Ludwig Studio

SA Fashion Week 2021 Michael Ludwig Studio
Anais Pretorius wearing Michael Ludwig Studio

After graduating from LISOF in 2017, Michael Ludwig Hittinger conceptualised his Michael Ludwig Studio brand. The design style is clean, considered, contemporary and refined. With a brand ethos that gives careful consideration to how different body types, even within a size, need to be properly catered for, with some creations a true one-size-fits-all, irrespective of the wearer’s body proportions, this accessible ready-to-wear brand ignores gender constructs, focusing on the contrast between masculinity and femininity.

“Fused with Eastern and asymmetrical design elements, this season’s collection is inspired by “De-Gendered Geometry”, combining the design principles of proportion, colour and silhouette, and shown in a diverse, non-binary manner, with a clear focus on how shape and identity are always at play,” Hittinger says.

Email:  [email protected]
Instagram: @michaelludwigstudio

Mc Alpine

SAFW New Talent Competition 2021 Finalists Mc Alpine
Rocklyn Sayers wearing Mc Alpine. Accessories by Elizabeth Morrs

Marguerite Mc Alpine, founder of brand Mc Alpine Clothing, completed her National Diploma and BTECH in Fashion Design and Technology from the University of Johannesburg in 2018, obtaining the title ‘Student of the Year’ with both qualifications.

Recognised for her refined use of natural fibres, Marguerite’s design style is modern and minimalist with clean lines and simple colour palettes. Spanning street to sleek, Mc Alpine Clothing is about comfort, quality and unique creations that will last a lifetime.

The new collection Waste Not, Want Not is a welcome reminder to use carefully and wisely what one has. “From repurposing leftover fabric scraps from previous collections, zero-waste garments and breathing new life into old favourites, this collection epitomises making use of what we have,” Mc Alpine says.

Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @mcalpine_clothing

Saint Vuyo

SAFW New Talent Competition 2021 Finalists Saint Vuyo
Lulu Mntonintshi wearing Saint Vuyo

After acquiring his undergraduate degree in fashion design at the Design School Southern Africa and later completing his Honours degree from LISOF in 2019, Thulani Vuyo Mlambo founded SAINT VUYO in 2020.

Inspired by dismantling or deconstructing hegemonic gender codes of society, the unisex luxury brand tells a truly authentic African tale of an African Clan, a suburban boytjie and his direct ancestors. Saint Vuyo’s latest collection “A Clan Named Mdineka” is based on the Wheel of Fortune tarot card which: “when faced upright, indicates good luck, good karma and a destiny of good life cycles.” The meaning behind the tarot represented within the collection reflects Thulani’s personal journey.

Email: [email protected]
Instagram:  @saint_vuyo

Sipho Mbuto

Having graduated from the Durban University of Technology in 2018, Sipho Mbuto’s design style comprises both avant-garde and ready-to-wear pieces. Positioned as a unisex label, the brand’s identity centres around the strength of individuality as opposed to the normative pressures like gender, sexual orientation and societal order.

“Aesthetics and sustainability should go hand-in-hand and beautiful garments needn’t be planet-destroying,” Mbuto says. “Fashion designers today have a responsibility to design ethically produced garments that are made to last,“ Mbuto says. His collection reflects a range that’s effortless to wear, up-cycled and waste-reduced, with a less-is-better ethos at its heart.

Email:  [email protected]
Instagram: @siphombuto


Words   |   Neil Doveton   @mrdoveton
Photographer   |   Migal Van As  @migalvanas
Models   |    Stephanie Zaaiman   Esmerelda Caroline Mouton   Anais Pretorius   Sikhokhele Tyhali   Ella Brauer   Rocklyn Sayers   Lulu Mntonintshi
Videography   |  William Mulders 2 Fellas Media   Assistant  Michaela Geldhof
Stylist   |   Carissa Bosman
Hair & Makeup   |   HOD The Makeup Touch  Assistant Margarita Reddy   Assistant Elscha Tintinger   Assistant Leedra Martin
Photographic Assistant   |   Wilke Hamman
Assistant   |   Hein Badenhorst 
Shot on location at The Old Tannery