The curtain came down last week on the first ever Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Joburg (MBFWJ) Spring/Summer showcase, and as MS. ALUWANI RATSHIUNGO reports, some of the menswear on show left much to be desired.
In comparison to the A/W 16 collections, the MBFWJ S/S menswear collections were somewhat disappointing. The decision to move the S/S showcase from Cape Town to Johannesburg was – according to the founders African Fashion International (AFI) – designed “to lift retail activity and allow local designers to optimally align their collections to meet the demands of the local retail and climate cycles.” Was the generally poor showing the result of this reconstruction or does it speak to the slow evolution of menswear?
If the answer is indeed evolution, Mr David Tlale has proven many times that he is an adventurous designer who is not afraid to push the envelope and he presented a confident collection with custom graphic textiles. The completely sheer lace pants, however, did not seem pragmatic at all. Or maybe I’m just unimaginative.
It was interesting to see Mr Antonio Macheve Jr of Xipixi taking on the loungewear trend that dominated catwalks at all the major Fashion shows in 2015. The silky robe with prints paired with silky purple pants and a crisp white shirt sort of worked.
Mr Sibusiso ‘Buda’ Malete’s collection in collaboration with DJ Tira for the AFI Fastrack competition – which they deservedly went on to win – included urban staples like cropped bomber jackets and slim fitting three quarter pants that looked light enough for spring/summer. The collection juxtaposed bright pink and baby pink with forest green in a (surprisingly) visually gratifying fashion. Even with the use of corduroy, the clothes didn’t feel heavy and clunky at all.
The contrasted clothing with assymetrical layering by Mr Tlale’s interns was predictable but not unpleasant. They seem to fear veering afield of their comfort zone as they’ve hardly changed their tempo since last season.
Mr Sandile Duke Mngadi of Duke, Mr Sello Medupe of Scalo and Côte d’Ivoire’s Ciss St Moïse all stuck to the black and white theme which permeated menswear and womenswear all week, cementing what may be the end of that the print trend, for now. The Ciss St Moïse showcase was part of Couture D’Afrique – presented by AFI Privé in association with PUMA SELECT – which featured a group of the most inspiring designers from eleven African countries. The collection was well fitting and much considered with highly detailed embroidery.
Another prevalent theme during the week was that of pairing designers (emerging and established) with celebrities. R by Rich Mnisi x Maps Maponyane was one of those designer/celebrity collaborations which seemed slightly off considering that Mr Mnisi already has enough clout and the designs were more of his style and less Mr Maps Maponyane’s – who has his own sense of style. One wonders whether it was a true collaboration or they simply slapped on a celebrity’s name for hype and commercial viability.
It is unclear why the menswear shows were rather bland but I’m inclined to call into question the practicality of men’s shows. As great as fashion week can be for a brand as far as media visibility goes, perhaps menswear designers should explore different ways of showcasing their designs, like installations or showroom presentations. Highly publicised lookbooks could even be a cost effective solution, one that has worked well for emerging designers the world over.
Images by Mr Siyabonga Mkhasibe