South Africa's two rival fashion weeks were a celebration of African design as well as an indication of the growing corporate support for the country's young designers.At South Africa Fashion Week in Johannesburg, which was held earlier this month, one of its banner sponsors, the department store chain Woolworths, backed the Woolworths StyleBySA show, which featured eight local designers: Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu, AKJP, Maria McCloy, Sol-Sol, Selfi and Young & Lazy.The designers showed modern streetwear to footwear and accessories inspired by the African continent; from the runway, the collaborative capsule collection was, in a first for SAFW, made available online immediately and what ensued was “a frenzy of online sales,” according to Charmaine Huet, Woolworths’ group director of marketing and sustainability.Fast-tracking runway to retail has been a priority for the partnership of Woolworths and SAFW.“As a passionately South African retailer we want to boost the visibility and viability of local designers,” Huet noted. “The quality of the work on show, and the response to it, is compelling proof of the incredible local talent the South African fashion industry has on offer.’’After inventory of the StyleBySA capsule collection was exhausted via online sales, the collections became available in select Woolworths stores in Cape Town, Sandton, Midrand, Pretoria and Durban starting April 12.Design competitions remain an important component of SAFW, which was marking its 20th anniversary, and are a valuable springboard for young designers. Said Lucilla Booyzen, founder and director of SAFW, “The aim of SA Fashion Week competitions is to assist talented designers with the potential for commercial growth to start making the transition from a developing creative to a sustainable business that can play a role in the Creative Fashion Industry, create jobs, wealth and contribute to the GDP of the country.”The event hosts two significant competitions, the Lufthansa First Class competition, which highlights the “stars of tomorrow,” and the Scouting Menswear competition in conjunction with GQ South Africa.Added Booyzen, “One of the most difficult challenges for a start-up designer today is the breakthrough to retail. A sure way for designers to fast-track their careers is through entering fashion competitions. They push young businesses into the media spotlight, which then leads to social media share of voice and in turn has an immediate effect on the growth of a young label.”The winner of the Lufthansa First Class competition was Sheila Madge-Bakker, whose label Sheila Madge Designs “reconciles the concept of the avant-garde with wearability,” according to the judging panel. Her prize package includes a trip to Berlin Fashion Week in July as part of the SAFW Travel Seminar.Garnering top prize at the Scouting Menswear competition was Conrad de Mill. “His collection was contemporary with a South African handwriting so to speak,” said Booyzen. “There was lots of detail and excellent workmanship.” Like Madge-Bakker, de Mill gets to go to Berlin with the SAFW Travel Seminar; in addition, he is guaranteed a spot at the SAFW fall 2018 shows which take place in October, and coverage from GQ South Africa.As for established designers, Jacques Van der Watt’s collection for Black Coffee stood out for its blurred gender boundaries.Meanwhile, the fall-winter Mercedes-Benz Cape Town Fashion Week, organized by African Fashion International, feted its 10th anniversary. Chairwoman Precious Moloi-Motsepe pointed to the reach of the fashion week across the African continent, with the likes of Rwanda’s Mille Collines, Mozambique’s Taibo Bacar, Senegal’s Adama Paris and Nigeria’s Ituen Basi joining leading South African designers such as Craig Port, Laduma Ngxokolo, David Tlale, Stefania Morland and Jenevieve Lyons, to name a few.Among the highlights were Taibo Bacar, whose collection was a celebration of the Mozambican woman within a global context, showing sophisticated, structured garments in bright colors, bold designs and stripes.Mille Collines, designed by Ines Cuatrecasas, showed breezy, fluid and flowing silhouettes topped with fabric head pieces, inspired by the Swahili culture of coastal Kenya and Tanzania, centered around Lamu, Mombasa and Zanzibar.Laduma called his show "The Coronation of MaXhosa," an homage to his Xhosa roots. Regal, opulent and extravagant, it featured his signature knits in dizzying prints, as well as quirky tracksuit pants and Xhosa ceremonial dress.Continued Moloi-Motsepe, “What we are witnessing is an eagerness from the public and private sectors to promote the growth of African fashion, as seen from the sponsorships and partnerships this platform has attracted. Like me, they have come to understand the economic significance of a thriving fashion industry, which helps our designers and related industries become more sustainable and establish themselves across the continent and abroad.”
“I think what’s so interesting about the #MeToo movement and this whole new wave of feminism in general, is that women are finally seeing, ’Oh I can start my own company, oh I can lear to code, oh I can leave my nine-to-five job and do the thing I want to do,” said @brooklyndecker ahead of her @sxsw talk for @createcultivate. The former model took the stage to share wisdom about networking and female-driven entrepreneurship. #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech at the @sxsw conference for @createcultivate, the online platform and conference series for women. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.