The A to Z...

Of SA Menswear Week

Words: Gavin Mikey Collins + Kelly Fung | Art: Abbey Lardner Burke

Amanda Laird Cherry (ALC Menswear)

This Durban-based label now going by the name ALC has been around for years, since the 90s in fact, but is catching our attention right at the moment with its charming and modern take on classic pieces. Garments have so far been functional but far from boring with definitive layering and clever, interchangeable capabilities. We’ve marked ALC Menswear as one to watch with this year’s AW collection entitled HEARD MAN. Inspired by the indigenous people of the Lesotho highlands, elements of Japanese minimalism and slick tailoring have also been added in traditional winter fabrics of melton and fleece.

 Bridging the gap between runway and street

Menswear has evolved rapidly over the last couple of seasons which has added to the excitement surrounding fashion weeks. Street wear has become integral to the 90’s throwback aesthetic with the likes of Gosha Rubchinskiy, Vetements and Astrid Anderson leading the way. Sportswear brand alliances have also been trending: Off-White with Umbro, Comme des Garçons and Nike, and Vetements with just about everybody. Trends that are certain to make another appearance backpacks, bucket hats and boiler suits.

 Corner Store Crew

The Corner Store crew (minus the gifted Anees Peterson of Young & Lazy) are set to show again at Menswear Week on Saturday at 20:45. A highlight at every fashion week, 2Bop and Sol-Sol continue to expand on the street culture conversation. Look out for diverse casting and familiar faces with the likes of the Butter Boyz walking down the runway.

Drinks (free)

The concept is simple: no drinks ticket, no drinks. And while this may have confused many a fashion intern don’t let it catch you out, too. Make sure you get your drinks ticket before heading to the bar to make conversation with that photographer you’ve been obsessing over on Instagram.

 Everyone for themselves 

Now us fashion folk are pretty peaceful people – that is, until we get backstage at any fashion week. SA Menswear Week is no exception. If you don’t find yourself having to elbow your way through, then count yourself lucky. However, if you do absolutely have to go, know this: it’s a game of every-man-for-himself, a dog-eat-dog world filled with sweaty models, a tired AF production team, designers, assistants and members of the media. Stylists have also been known to get feisty with garments for their respective shoots that will be taking place in the days after fashion week. Our advice? Breathe in, be ready and act fast.

Fashion’s Who’s Who - know them, and if you don’t… get to know them

It’s important to educate yourself on the industry you’re in and get to know the people who matter. Fashion Directors frequent the shows and it’s necessary that you show them the respect they deserve. Don’t look them in the eyes – you'll turn to stone. Don’t try reaching for the garment they want – you'll burst into flames. All jokes aside, industry legends like Louw Kotze and Chrisna de Bruyn are wonderful people with loads of wisdom to share with you, so be humble enough to listen.

Gender agenda

Designers around the world have become less concerned with traditional norms of menswear and have instead redefined the idea of what it means to be a man in the 21st century. This is especially true of a number of local designers who are rejecting the gender binaries and creating clothing for a new-age customer. Cast your mind back to last season and Merwe Mode, Nao Serati and Blanc. All three designers showed collections that merged menswear and womenswear, creating a new space in between. Delicate fabrics, frills and androgynous silhouettes were incorporated into their collections to subvert the masculinity usually associated with menswear. We’re intrigued to see what they have in store for us next. Our new mantra: “pink is the new black”.

Hair and Makeup

SA Menswear Week manages to bring the drama by collaborating with some of the industry’s best creatives in hair and makeup. Partners Hair Design and the MAC team, including @rainetauber and @thelastblackmage, bring you the most exciting new grooming trends along with some spectacular runway moments.


The best way to stay tuned to the latest shows (if you aren’t able to attend yourself) is to follow the industry insiders. People like @malibongwe, @thevisualjournal and @rustybeukes are the people you need to be following to keep your fashion references up to date.

Jol report – where the parties at?

To celebrate the change in location from the Cape Town Stadium to an exciting new space in Woodstock, guests are being welcomed to a pre-party at The Corner Store. The “official” after party is taking place at The Bank and is sure to be full of over-excited male models and their admirers, as well as those fashionista types wearing borrowed designer dresses and a few exhausted interns. Often the most enjoyable after parties start right outside the show venue and continue long after the official parties have ended.

Keeping up with Rich Mnisi

Rich Mnisi – always a highlight on the fashion calendar. We chatted to him about his anticipated collection, entitled Xingelengele: “It all started with the idea of "Ngi’cela i’void" which means "please void the transaction", like when you are at a supermarket. It made me think of the idea of undoing, and if we had the opportunity to cela i’void whenever we changed our minds or wanted to undo something that had happened. How many of us would jump at the opportunity and how many times would we undo?” You got all of that? Great. We can’t wait to see how it will all materialise this week.

 Light it up... Tips for better selfies

Professor in the Art of Selfies, Kim Kardashian, is a published selfie expert. So take a leaf out of her book and come to fashion week prepped to pout.

Selfie tip #1 Make sure the light is amazing. Avoid fluorescent light like last season’s Pantone.

Selfie tip #2 Chin down, Camera up. You need to perfect this angle to achieve a more streamlined look and to give your frenemies something to talk about.

Selfie tip #3 Crop to perfection. If you’re struggling to make the crop top situation translate from IRL to the finished photo, crop out your torso. Don’t like the way your arms look in that picture? Bye, Felicia. A good selfie is one that makes yourself(ie) feel good so crop away!

 Military influence

The military trend has survived many seasons and the fact is, it’s still going strong. Camo prints, bomber jackets and combat boots are all over the international runways and we’re expecting this trend to carry through to the local scene.

Nigeria Represents

One huge opportunity that SA Menswear Week provides is a platform for African designers from all over the continent to show to a South African audience. Nigeria is overflowing with talent but two designers in particular are on our radar. Orange Culture’s Adebayo Oke-Lawal and Tokyo James of his eponymous label, Tokyo James. These two always seem to make a splash at fashion week with their bold and fresh takes on menswear.

Adebayo’s approach is more nostalgic, referencing his childhood and incorporating womenswear for men with beautiful ease.

Tokyo’s expertise is tailoring and this comes through in each collection with slay-worthy suiting for any dressed-up event. Experience Tokyo James AW17 collection on Friday at 19:30 and Orange Culture on Saturday at 20:45.

OTT Outfits – let us know your faves

One thing to know about fashion weeks, even this one, is that you have to let go of all expectations of what you think you might see. This applies not only to what the designers show but also to the spectators. This is your chance to go all out with your outfits, the bolder the better. You might see the craziest looks and over-the-top everything – but don’t judge it, enjoy it. And remember not to gawk, I’m sure your mother told you it’s not polite to stare.


You’re wearing head-to-toe Nicholas Coutts and you’re feeling fire. Then you check the mirror and it’s a good hair day, too! Remember, bae needs to see this to know you’re a serious fashion person. Make sure you get snapped by the street style photographers who are usually milling around outside the venue between shows. Confidence is key here.

Queues, and how to avoid them

There will be queues for tickets, queues for the bar, queues for the bathroom. And while we know it's fashionable to be late, try get there early – it’s one way to avoid them queues. Sometimes though, you’re just going to have to suck it up and wait your turn.

Relax, recharge + rehydrate

Don’t over-commit to shows: remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Take some time out in a lounge to charge your phone. Build in time for sleeping late. If you’re having trouble deciding on which shows to incorporate into your schedule, remember that the headline show of the night isn’t always the best one to go to. You might want to skip off to the afterparty and beat the crowds to the bar at the same time (see ‘Q’ and ‘D’).

 Shameless self-promotion

Meet the team: Superbalist stylist @gaviroo and Fashion Director @x_kellyfung_x

Trend prediction: Tracksuits

Another sports luxe-based trend? Cue the eye roll, but as much as we don’t want to admit it, the tracksuit has emerged as the star of menswear runways – and it has never looked cooler. Just to clarify, we’re not talking about those ill-fitting, polyester sweatpants you would wear to paint the house. This winter’s athletic wear solution is more grown-up and has been elevated by clever fabrics like neoprene and silk. Our eyes are on the local runway – who will cover this trend, and more importantly, how will they do it?

 Unknown Union

One of the coolest new additions to the Menswear Week schedule is Unknown Union under the creative direction of Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def. Known for its colourful streetwear, inspired by traditional prints and textiles, UU joins the growing community of streetwear brands doing it for themselves.

Very important to remember…

Beyond the glitz and the glam, the best-dressed and the worst, beyond who took your front-row seat and how outraged you were at not getting free drinks, remember that putting on a production like this is hard work. Keep in mind that the reason you attend is to above all, support local design and engage with this growing industry. Think before you criticise and take in the talent that's put before you.

Waiting for the shows to start

This is a lesson that everyone has to learn. Even the best-organised fashion shows usually start late. Accept this, and use the time wisely – get an extra drink, socialise for longer or get your #outfitoftheday pic in before taking your seat. Menswear is notorious for running late but with the condensed show schedule, we hope the organisers managed to streamline the production.


We had a quick chat with the designer of one of our favourite new brands to show this weekend: Daniel Sher of Good Good Good. This is what he had to say…

S: What is Good Good Good all about?

DS: Good Good Good is a functional basics menswear brand for men of all sizes. All product is designed and manufactured in our family factory in Cape Town. While our primary aim is to be a reliable staples brand, we have started to venture into more experimental and technical classic menswear items, which will be on display at our SA Menswear Week show.

S: Tell us a little something about this collection?

DS: This collection is our first time participating in any type of fashion week! The collection is split into two parts: a) A standalone Good Good Good collection, and b) a collaborative capsule with the very talented Cape Town artist David Brits. We have also collaborated with our friends over at Simon and Mary on a collection of felt hats, and there is another exciting collab which you're going to have to wait to see at the show.

S: How good is Good Good Good? :)

DS: So good that we had to tell you 3 times!

 Yaaaassss Boys 

Male models... who won’t we be watching? However, there'll be some favourites you might recognise, like the beautiful, alabaster-skinned Sanele from Boss Models. Then look out for exciting new faces from all over Africa: Prince and Maxwell from Ghana, and all the boys from Nigeria...

Generation Z: the iGeneration

This new generation of consumers relate more to Jaden and Willow Smith than they do to Miley Cyrus. They expect loyalty from brands yet they easily flit from one brand to the next. Oh, and they probably already have 10k followers on Instagram and have had a cell phone since birth. The fashion landscape has changed so dramatically over the past couple of years that it’s hard to imagine where we’re heading next. What we do know is this: the new generation are consuming fashion in an unpredictable, yet incredibly exciting way.

SAMW runway images: Simon Deiner / SDR Photo