You might call it the epitome of slow fashion. The fruit of his relationship with a community of weavers in Burkina Faso, Lukhanyo Mdingi’s coed collection was a long-cooking affair that melded archival elements with variations on local weaving and dyeing techniques.
The South African designer was introduced to the CABES social enterprise via the Ethical Fashion Initiative, and they’ve been working together for three years.
Mdingi, one of the three joint winners of the Karl Lagerfeld Special Jury Prize at the 2021 edition of the LVMH Prize, played with color and shine in a lineup that juxtaposed his signature patchwork knits, as singular as works of art, with upscale takes on vintage sportswear inspired by Ouagadougou street style.
Think double-layered Bermuda shorts with circular cutouts on the sides, paired with gauzy hand-knit sweaters; or a retro tank top with badges, worn with pleated purple culottes and a cape-like silk scarf, in a gender-fluid alternative to sportswear. Among the tailored looks, standouts included a purplish blue men’s suit with irregular rust-and-yellow tie-dye motifs.
Mdingi is at the vanguard of a new generation of African designers challenging traditional notions of masculinity. That shift might feel like a revolution, but as his production methods suggest, real social impact requires the luxury of time.