The Way Forward

Local designers build a roadmap


Words: Daniël Geldenhuys | Images: Getty

As the idea of the future becomes increasingly daunting, politically and environmentally, the question of how fashion design will change in these shaky conditions becomes increasingly pressing. The recent collections shown at AFI Joburg Fashion Week and SA Fashion Week are the last we’ll see from South African designers before the dawn of a new decade. The best shows are built around a positive disposition to the state of South Africa and the world, presenting ways of dressing to sustain us as we move into a new era.



The brand’s use of “influencers” doesn’t feel like an empty flash-in-the-pan marketing scheme. The point is that these are real woman who thrive in the Khosi Nkosi formal vocabulary. This season feels as inclusive as ever, building on a narrative of formal trophy pieces that are uncompromisingly South African. Not only does Khosi see the value of local identity, she thrives on it.



Another brand to celebrate African identity is Rich Factory. Many make use of easily identifiable African prints, but few render them as exuberantly chic as this. The collection was a pleasing pairing of vivid African print with universally loved silhouettes, fertile with frills and optimised for a fantastic range of figures. It’s a much-needed example of fashion doing the most to uplift and invigorate the spirit.



It’s been almost half a decade since designer Anissa Mpungwe showed a runway collection and it’s great to have her back. There’s an ease to her clothes that translates perfectly into daily life, and can rise to a formal occasion if necessary, feeling simultaneously special and relatable. Binding the collection is what Anissa rightly dubs “a subtle nod to female empowerment”. From little details like the Listen tote to a range of hem lengths from mini to maxi, she’s empowering her customer with the luxury of choice.



Erre has always had a quiet confidence built on craft and quality construction. This season emphasised rich knitwear in a vivid colour palate. Pieces that celebrate both design and their fabric’s DNA such as these are aimed for the heirloom market – a perfectly sustainable place to be.



Leave it to Team ALC to present the most creative interpretation of sustainability, certainly on the South African runways and arguably on a global scale as well. The brand partnered with Gumtree to source second-hand fabrics – a brainwave that deserves commending. The collection is quintessentially ALC: the upcycled fabric is rendered with a creativity that echoes Galliano at Margiela, an investigation of construction that results in a desirable beauty that proves just how empty the concept of absolute newness can be. The way Amanda has incorporated this level of conscious manufacturing into her design, without sacrificing a smidgen of her house codes, can be read as a blueprint for how designers will have to work going forward. The need for this is ever-pressing. The time to act is now.