7 Reasons To Care About SAMW

With co-founder and creative director of SAMW16 Simon Deiner

Words: Dylan Muhlenberg | Illustrations: Amber Rose Pretorius

It’s been said that South Africa has got too many fashion weeks and I should know, I’m often the one saying it, but three days of menswear at an all-male focused fashion week? Too fricking much! Except it’s all rather justified, especially after you hear out the dude behind the third instalment of South African Menswear Week, which brings together 35 designers from across the continent, in a spectacle that doffs its jauntily angled hat at London Collections: Men. That guy, co-founder and creative director, Simon Deiner, helped us come up with 7 reasons why you should care about SAMW. So if you needed some prompting, this is it…

It’s more than just shows

There’s the networking, peacocking and photo opportunities, all of which are pretty great; less obvious is the year-round work to try and educate South African consumers on the availability of menswear by local designers and the fact that the organisers supplement the shows with films, talks and presentations.

“We have trend talks by Nicola Cooper, as well as panel discussions on menswear, the business side of fashion, the role of a fashion week… and then there are also static presentations of future designers who will be showcasing in July.”

The emerging designers

Along with established brands like Port by Craig Port and CSquared, SAMW puts emerging designers on the same bill as the stalwarts, which is crucial for the development and identification of future talent.

“We dont believe in competitions or luck in developing the next generation of menswear designers, and instead we work alongside the fashion schools and current designers to identify the young designers we feel will represent South Africa in the years to come. This year Siviwe James and Nao Serati have big shoes to fill after 2015's superstars Lukhanyo Mdingi and Rich Mnisi exceeded all expectations.”

The sheer spectacle

With clean, focused shows hosted in what’s essentially an empty concrete passage, the creative and technical teams have to pull out all the stops. You can be sure that as much creativity goes into the running of the event as the designers put into their designs.

“The budget is simply horrific if one includes the sheer amount of lighting, supports, set, staging, chairs and models. This plays host to more than 150 members of the media every night with an additional 1000+ plus guests joining across the course of the evening. Everyone from local celebrities to industry stakeholders to guests.”

 Spot trends before they appear

Remember how you used to wear your jeans, and then some designer sent a model down the runway with rolled up pants and now you have fourteen different ways to cuff your pants? After attending SAMW16 you’ll know what to do with your face now that the beard has played out.

“Trends do actually trickle down from catwalk to commercial, everyday wear. Some are quickly adopted into the mainstream and others take a few years. I think it’s a balancing act by designers. If you’re too far ahead you won’t be understood and this may affect immediate sales, but if you’re simply following trends you could be perceived as not being relevant anymore. Social media and things like street style photography also influence trends now.”

See how good menswear is right now

Because this is kind of the point, right? We’re at an exciting time where men are dressing better, supporting local and celebrating the people behind local menswear brands. And after following our three favourite cuties @nbcoutts, @lukhanyomdingi and @akjpcollective Instagramming up a storm at Pitti in Florence, as well as hearing comments from The Cornerstore Collective who, despite saying that they’re not interested in fashion weeks, are planning something really special, we can’t wait to see this year’s show.

“The attention is focused, and by grouping the segment you’re able to push a stronger message. Menswear is the highest growth area in fashion currently and we have a diverse range covered, from streetwear through to formal suiting, conceptual cutting edge to casualwear. When you have Vogue Homme requesting to attend, I think you’re on the right track.”


The parties

With the majority of shows ending at 22:00 you’ll need somewhere to go afterwards. Fortunately there are plenty of options, some of which may even include those three magic words “Champagne and canapes”. Add to this the fact that models, photographers, designers and media have all been known to enjoy a night on the tiles, and you have the makings of the type of night that leads to a morning after. Hooray for the fact that SAMW coincides with First Thursdays and CTEMF

“We have a reputation that we need to live up to. I think fashion weeks are always expected to have a party to celebrate at afterwards. There’s the opening cocktail party, Friday has two after-parties for two of the brands and this year’s official after-party is hosted by our closing designers, Magents, and takes place at The Bank. It’s quite a full schedule for those who like to party.”

Dress and groom unconventionally

Now we’re not saying that you need to wear a bindi and braid flowers into your beard like Tzvi Karp does, but perhaps you could use SAMW16 as an opportunity to put in a bit more effort than you usually do. Dress like you’re meant to be there. After all, GQ magazine is a sponsor and if you’ve ever thought about making their coveted 'Best-Dressed Men' list then this is the place to get noticed.

“A lot of our audience go the extra mile and really dress up when planning their SAMW outfits. With the prevalence of street style and the huge number of bloggers attending, the cutting edge outfits our guests wear are always well documented. Although no formal dress code exists, it’s about being unique and celebrating style and who you are.”