After working with design houses such as Versace, Rodarte and Liberty of London, Superga signed on for its first-ever collaboration with an African designer.
The Italian fashion sneaker company tapped Chu Suwannapha, a Cape Town-based designer of Thai descent known in local fashion circles as “The Prince of Prints,” designing under his own label Chulaap, to create a collection that “celebrates Africa.” The result is Superga X Chulaap, which consists of three styles.
“The collaboration,” he explained, “is inspired by African street art and culture, combined with Oriental influences. I designed three different Chulaap prints and worked with three existing Superga basic styles. It was like painting on a blank canvas.”
Katy Ward, marketing manager of Superga South Africa, said, “At Superga we wanted to do something outstanding that appeals to those willing to take a risk with their personal sense of style, designs that would not only resonate with South Africans but cause a stir with international fashion watchers, too.”
Despite the attention he has received as a fashion designer, Suwannapha is reluctant to give up his day job as fashion director for one of South Africa’s largest media groups, Media24. Known for his unique sartorial style that blends preppy and eccentric, complete with bowler haircut, round-rimmed glasses and a bow tie, the designer is hailed as a local street-style star and trend influencer.
“I’m taking it very slow while I’m still working full time as a fashion director,” he admitted. “I’m keeping this business very small. I don’t want to go too big too soon.”
The Superga x Chulaap collection, which is scheduled to drop in stores in December, comprises the classic 2750 in a colorful Ndebele print, the 2790 platform sneaker in “Afro Pop,” and the 2311 slip-on in an African wax origami print.
Ward said the collection was available for purchase to all international licensees of Superga for sale in-store and online but would not disclose which markets had already placed an order.
Nevertheless, she said the company hoped to collaborate with more African designers in the future.