Highlights: African Men's Fashion Week

Take what you think you know about African menswear and throw it out the window: the designers at South African Menswear Week showed collections that were edgy and innovative and pushed the boundaries on what today’s man should look like.

Jahnkoy

Siberian-born, New York based designer Maria Kazakova showed a collection on African soil because of the ever-present influence of the continent on her aesthetic, with tribalism, bead embellishments and prints always taking central stage. In this collection, owing to collaboration with mega sportswear brand Puma, there was a team sports meets tribal leader/shaman vibe, if you can imagine that. Jahnkoy is going to be huge and this collection helped cement her rising star following her showing at New York Fashion Week to much adulation.

Rich Mnisi

Rich’s Insta-ready looks have helped ensure that he is a firm favourite with those annoying fashion-types. Think bold pieces like a lipstick red jumpsuit with a low neckline showing off a taut chest; or a white coat with a massive flower at the closing of the belt, or high-waisted powder blue short shorts with an orange puffer. These are looks that will garner you a coupla thousand likes and have you appearing on all of the pap shots for street style at some or other fashion week.

Kim Gush

Kim’s minimalist colour palette of all-black-everything leaves her with plenty room to play with shapes, fabrics, and even types of models – from a 6’2 male model in patented black knee-high stilettos, a chiffon cape and wide-brim witch’s hat, to a short 5’7 model in black leather shorts, priest’s hat and a little pooch in tow. Everyone’s welcome to this underworld.

Tokyo James

Also working on black magic was Tokyo James, who presented a collection that echoed the grim political landscape the world currently sits on. Combining precision suit tailoring and a clever use of heavy untreated leather on accessories (big bags ready for marching to war), the collection looked expensive and refined. Add to that, on-trend sweaters with rebellion slogans like “ugly is the new cool” and you have a sure fire hit of a collection.

Imprint

African print can quickly look kitsch and old, but in Mzukisi Mbane’s hands, it gets a fresh twist with gender-fluid items that included kilts, aprons and corsets.  Not something you would expect to see from an African designer?

Well, these designers are part of a crop carving their own niche, which shuns traditional preconceptions about what African fashion would be.  It’s an exciting time in African menswear.

Ash Allibhai