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Heritage and luxury
Tickets for the Maxhosa Africa exhibition sold out very quickly. This speaks to how popular the brand is. Think aspirational luxury, international appeal, and craftsmanship. This marked Maxhosa’s return to SAFW after a long absence. That the flagship store is in Mall of Africa, home to SAFW for three years now, added to the excitement.
Part of the Maxhosa Africa nuance is rooted in heritage. The latest Alkebulan collection, fresh from exhibiting in London, extends on this with a majestic quality. According to Senegalese historian and anthropologist, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop in the book, Kemetic History of Afrika, Alkebulan is the ancient name of Africa, meaning ‘mother of mankind’ or ‘Garden of Eden.’ It is said to be the oldest and the only word of indigenous origin.
With this collection, the Maxhosa Africa aesthetic and soul are expanded by explorations into patchwork and materials other than the signature wool.
Scouting Menswear competition
Since its launch in 2012, SAFW’s Scouting Menswear competition has helped raise the profile of emerging menswear designers and provided them with support in the retail market, which according to the previous judge Kojo Baffoe, is “increasingly congested.”
Due to this increasing demand, in addition to the aesthetics, the contestants are now also judged on their ability to run a business, the coherence of their collections, and how they’re establishing their brand.
This year’s entrants for the Scouting Menswear competition were Abantu by Thandazani Nofingxana; Czene.24 by Calvin Lunga Cebekhulu; Foy Bear by Kagiso Matlaisane; Gugubygugu by Gugu Peteni; Ipantsula by Kabelo Legodi and Sthembiso Mchunu; PLJ X The Breed by Azaria Khoza and Presley; Rebirth SA by Jesmine Davids and Refuse Clothing Brand by Malcolm Mokgope and Minenhle Memela.
Running threads throughout the collections of the competition were the sportswear and streetwear themes coupled with utility, as well as the interesting use of wool and print work. All the contestants brought their individual signatures and quirks to the game.
Refuse Clothing Brand is the Scouting Menswear winner for 2022. Not new to the competition, the duo worked with the unifying spirit of sport to create a versatile and functional collection.
Giving context and speaking on what made them stand out, celebrated fashion designer and judge, Thula Sindi says, “Everyone hit all the right notes, but Refuse Clothing offered brilliant, unique knitwear—and knitwear is huge in this country. They ticked the right boxes – from sustainability to strong thematic pieces. Men are willing to spend on streetwear and sportswear. Refuse Clothing went further by taking inspiration from different types of sports. Their brand story and that they work as a team adds to their advantage…design duos do excellently in this industry when they’re well matched. Competitions should push people who are already succeeding in terms of their vision, structure and product. As a business, they’re solid and market ready.”
Quirk, excellent tailoring and eccentricity
Last year’s Scouting Menswear winner Vanklan showcased her new collection, hinting at a slight progression of her quirky and fantastical ideas that subvert the thrifting culture.
Continuing with the menswear theme, Franc Elis remains consistent with the sophistication of his well-tailored garments and shirting. The new collection impressed with a rich colour palette and geometric structures.
Also known for his impressive tailoring, Ephraim Molingoana of Ephymol continued with his experimentation of prints and styles. Working with textured fabrics, he presented an eccentric collection.
Exciting street couture
Loxion Kulca closed the night and ended this season of SAFW on a high and reflective note. Since the passing of the brand’s co-founder, Wandi Nzimande, a Loxion Kulca showcase evokes a mix of sadness and celebration.
The brand is now under the creative leadership of designer, Ole Ledimo, who is preserving its legacy and essence and impressively taking it forward. The nostalgic mini-documentary that opened the show reflected on how Loxion Kulca is intrinsic to the defining moments of South Africa’s popular and youth culture.
As Kwaito became the soundtrack to the turning points of youth finding their voice in post-apartheid South Africa, Loxion Kulca became the lifestyle brand that they wore, adding a prideful bump to their step.
Ole Ledimo is now growing together with that 90s youth and tapping into resonant zeitgeists. The new collection included exceptional street couture summed up as refined, edgy, and exciting.
These styles are an extension of the print that Ole Ledimo introduced at SAFW’s Spring/Summer 2021 season that he dedicated to Wandi. This evolution of Loxion Kulca is a beautiful thing to witness.