SA Design Going Slow Fast

South African fashion design is rapidly moving from disposable seasonality into Slow Fashion as local designers across the board adopt an earth-friendly approach to the style business.

SA Design Going Slow Fast
SAFW (Ephymol)

South African fashion design is rapidly moving from disposable seasonality into Slow Fashion as local designers across the board adopt an earth-friendly approach to the style business.

Announcing the SA Fashion Week (SAFW) Autumn/Winter 24 Collections to be held at The Mall of Africa from 19 - 21 October followed by the Trade Show and Showroom on 22 and 23 October 2023 and sponsored by Mr. Price, the Mall of Africa, Cruz Vodka, Isuzu and Carlton Hair, director Lucilla Booyzen confirmed that ninety percent of this season’s participating designers now work within this ethos.
“Each of the nine designers in the Mr. Price Scouting Menswear Competition, including the new signatures showing their first collections, as well as more established brands such as Helon Melon, Bam Collective, Munkus, Michael Ludwig, and industry stalwarts such as Black Coffee, Rubicon and Ephymol consider their garments as unique collector’s items to be treasured over time.” 

This equally means that they use higher quality low carbon fabrication as well as techniques to recycle or upcycle, source locally, and avoid waste or dead stock by working on limited edition ranges or commissioned pieces.

The emphasis on gender fluid and body-sensitive design are other principles of this kinder movement which is increasingly filtering through to the broader South African consumer, as more than fifty local retailers stock SAFW designers.

The power of collaboration to amplify the impact of the seasonal event will be much in evidence again. This includes the exhibition of the finalists of the Student Competition, SAFW’s collaboration with 32 design institutions around the country, as well as its ongoing relationship with Carlton Hair, as the official hair styling partner.
“Carlton Hair prides itself on quality, professionalism and sustainability. We love partnering with SAFW as we feel they focus on the same attributes. We aim to give our clients and stylists the exposure and opportunity to be exposed to the latest fashion and hair trends,” says Cindy Gorman, National Academy Principal and Member of the Carlton Hair Creative Team.

Collaborating with The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) to establish market channels, a two-day brand-building and export development workshop with various local and international experts will precede this year’s Tradeshow/Showroom, the platform where the event’s business deals are conducted.  

A highlight of this workshop will be a hands-on inside track on the compilation of the all-important Look Books for International Buyers by top photographer, Benjamin Frochcewajg, who will also be shooting the collections handpicked for international marketing. 

According to Booyzen other recent successes include an export initiative between SAFW and À-Propos led by, Massimo Casagrande and his London-based counterpart, Sennait Ghebreab as well as Eddie Marquez, a partner in The Good Six agency, based in New York.

These international collaborations over the past two seasons resulted in the forging of relationships with several international fashion movers and shakers including Paula Ciolina, International Relations and Buyers projects manager at Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana in Milan, and fashion agent, Margaux Bagur, who focuses on the lucrative Middle Eastern and North American markets and who attended the April 2022 collections. 

The CRUZ Collective opens the Autumn/Winter 23 Collections featuring Michael Hittinger of Ludwig Studio, the signature who earlier this year participated in the À-Propos collaboration with major Italian stores, Vogue Italia and Afro Fashion Week, menswear supremo, Ephraim Molingoana of Ephymol and Fikile Sokhulu, According to sponsor, Maisha Mamabolo of Cruz, the show exemplifies why fashion is about more than clothing. “Fashion is about attitude, it creates cultures. Cruz was born from the spirit of New York, so we rally behind the pursuit of success as we explore the new age of luxury with the CRUZ Collective." 

A triple bill comprising collections from Jacques Bam’s eponymous Bam Collective, Cape Town designer, Oyama Gonintebe, a finalist in the 2023 Mr. Price New Talent Search and the winner of the 2022 Mr Price New Talent Search, Thando Ntuli’s Munkus Collection.

This will be followed by emerging new signatures, Thula-Tu by Cape Town-based Andi Vena, VNTU, and Durban’s Elwen Designs. 

The ISUZU Collections comprises iconic local designers Jacques van der Watt’s latest Black Coffee collection, a mostly gender-neutral range drawing inspiration from 18th-century frescos and mosaics, Hokusai block prints and Sashiko mending, and Palesa Mokubung of Mantsho whose Regalia Collection references “the distinctive clothing, usually royal-like, worn at formal occasions to indicate status or rank.”
“Through collaborating with Black Coffee and Mantsho, we explore the runway of possibilities and ask creators to #BringIt, forging a path where our shared values fuel a future of inspiration and distinction,” says Ziphindiwe Ngcobo, Department Executive: Marketing for ISUZU, the sponsors of the ISUZU Collections whose ISUZU mu-X model epitomizes the bridging of the gap between style and comfort, to redefine mobility in the same way that fashion redefines style, she says. 
The AW24 VIVIERS Collection, Re-Trace, Re-Memory, Re-Set, Re-Culture, will serve as a canvas for unraveling the threads that bind our collective origin stories, inviting us to examine the interconnections between art, science, spirituality, and cultural heritage,” says designer Lezanne Viviers.  

Rubicon’s effortless and timeless style, form-flattering sophistication, and tailored craftsmanship will again be the hallmarks as designer Hangwani Nengovhela celebrates her signature collection’s 21st birthday this season. This will be followed by the menswear Collection, Franc Elis.

"The talent we've seen leading up to the Mr. Price Scouting Menswear show echoes the exciting evolution in men’s design right now. We're experiencing a shift in the approach and mood, and we can't wait for everyone to witness what SA's upcoming designers will be sending down the runway,” comments Mr. Price managing director, Kevin Smith about the collections of the nine menswear signatures in this year’s event. They are:


Adding to this line-up, Mr Price will launch their "Modern Romance Collection" celebrating local Design.

Helen Gibbs of well-established Cape Town brand, HELON MELON’s chemical-free fabric and vibrant water-based colours sets the tone for a three-man show which also introduces the new collections from 2022 Scouting Menswear Competition winner, Refuse Clothing Brand, and Silver Magpie.

Luxury fashion and lifestyle brand, Sun Goddess, returns to the runway with its quintessential South African clothing and accessories rooted in heritage stories that celebrate a regal African aesthetic expressed in detailed handwork, signature fabric, and distinctive colour palettes.

Joining this show’s quartet is the current collection from MusaWenkosi, Titled Valerie, the Collection explores a sporty retro tennis theme drawing inspiration from iconic vintage prints as well as Nicky Madie’s gender-fluid Madie collection and Tshepo Mafokwane new collection for Sober Design House.  

The last word goes to Leemisa Tsolo, head of Asset and Property Management - Retail of Attacq Limited, the owners of Mall of Africa. 

“We expected great things from our association with the South African Fashion Week from day one of the relationship’s inception in 2020. By then, Mall of Africa had already had four years to establish itself as Gauteng’s hub of top international fashion and lifestyle brands. Aligning ourselves with exceptional local design was a natural fit.

The excitement generated by the biannual launch of the seasonal collections, however, exceeded our dreams exponentially. The return on investment in terms of positive publicity and social media presence, remains unrivaled, as does its capacity to deliver thrilling retail theatre and the commensurate word-of-mouth this generates. 

It is therefore no coincidence that, despite hugely challenging economic conditions, Mall of Africa has continued to outstrip many of its peers on key success markers. Both year-on-year foot count and turnover grew considerably from January to July 2023,” says Tsolo. 

He also believes that South African Millennials are inspired by the centre’s commitment to supporting local design entrepreneurs by providing such a prestigious launching pad for their future careers.

“We have received the nod as the country’s Coolest Mall from 12,000 young South Africans in the Sunday Times Generation Next Awards for four consecutive years. I sense that they resonate with our vision of throwing a glamorous and high-profile spotlight on African excellence as well as our determination to be the continent’s premier destination for top local fashion.”