Monday, February 11, 2019

#FEATURE: Menswear In Africa – Bold, Brave and Patriotic

An original piece by Lauren Hartzenberg.

Menswear is a slightly smaller category than womenswear, with population demographics being one of the reasons for this as well as the fact that women tend to buy clothing more frequently than men. But the segment has gained ground over the last decade. The South African market alone has been forecast to reach R41 billion in value in 2021, driven by a growing interest among men in their appearance and personal grooming. African fashion is seeing growing recognition abroad, and menswear, in particular, has become bolder, more expressive and less restricted by social norms.

A handful of industry mavens unpacked the trends driving the business of men’s fashion during a panel discussion hosted by fashion blog Renaissance Men SA at the South African Menswear Week (SAMW) held in Cape Town earlier this month. The Fashion Talks segment looked at the current state of menswear in SA and the greater African continent, and the opportunities and challenges impacting its growth.

Celebrating African heritage

Jason Storey, founder, and CEO of clothing brand Unknown Union proclaimed that fashion in Africa is verging on revolutionary. 

“The African renaissance is upon us. Right now, I think the world is turning its energy and its gaze towards this continent. Walking through the streets, seeing the way people are styling themselves and viewing the designers' work I see limitless creativity, I see fresh interpretations of things, and I see a daring approach to fashion with audacity and boldness that is particular to this space.”

Another panelist, creative director and designer of House of St Luke, Mxolisi Mkhize, noted the shift away from the idolizing of European fashion to an embracing of local heritage. He spoke of a time growing up when Italian fashion was coveted and considered superior to locally-made apparel. But this mindset is changing.

“People are embracing their African cultures and traditions. Being different has become exciting and I believe that in terms of design we’re competing on a global level,” Mkhize said.

Gilmore Moyo, a Zimbabwean social entrepreneur, and PR consultant echoed these sentiments. “In Africa, I think we're beginning to find ourselves more, but I think we need to find even more inspiration from each other and not look to Europe or Asia. We're seeing more fashion inspired by African roots and backgrounds and we’re beginning to realize that we need to take our expression to the world.”

While African fashion may be enjoying growing exposure globally, one could argue that talent and ingenuity have always existed here. “Look at how our ancestors covered themselves in jewellery and beadwork. African fashion has always been on the cutting edge; it was just never celebrated,” said Seth Shezi, a local PR consultant, writer, and lifestyle brand strategist. 

He believes that what’s changed is that people have gained confidence. “People are realizing that who they are and how they feel they want to express themselves is enough. It doesn't need verification. And that confidence is highlighting creativity that’s always been there.” 

Breaking gender stereotypes

Less bound to the rigid gender roles of the past, fashion too is moving into a more gender fluid space. “There are fewer stores now that have separate men's and women's fitting rooms, and many are mixing men's and women's clothing in the same department,” said Anuell Ahmar, editor-in-chief and executive director at online magazine Style Me Strauss.

“I visit a store and I find myself purchasing items from the ladies’ section because there are specific garments that I’m drawn to.

“As a South African market, we are pushing boundaries and moving towards a genderless state where men and women are realizing that they don’t have to conform to a style that has been imposed on them by societal norms years prior. We are starting to find our individuality and identity as individuals," Ahmar said.

Similarly, Moyo said that current men’s fashion is reflecting a time in history when women controlled the motherland. “I'm seeing softer fabrics used in menswear and skirts for men are appearing on the runway. When we go back to the origin of our continent women ran households are they’re the ones inspiring fashion.”

Becoming globally competitive

While the panel’s attitude towards the state of local fashion from a design perspective was a positive one, the discussion around the effects of cheap Chinese imports on the local production sector was less optimistic. 

Deliberating on whether SA’s manufacturing sector stands a competitive chance in producing clothing not just for the local market but for the rest of the globe, many felt that the bulk of responsibility lies at a government level. 

But Storey urged local designers to tap into the technical expertise that is lying dormant since the thriving days of SA’s clothing production sector, a time when Cape Town specifically served as a manufacturing hub for a number of global fashion houses.

“The individuals who trained and worked under those experts are still here. They're still alive today. And my experience here has been that when you find somebody who can do really amazing work, they tend to be 50 years old and over.” 

He cautioned: “We need to act quickly, whether in the public or private space. The window of opportunity is closing quickly. Once those individuals are gone that expertise is no longer here.”

Shezi, meanwhile, highlighted the power of social media in influencing perception around the style and design that exists within the African continent, especially among Millennials and Gen Xers.

“In terms of access, social media manages to catapult or be a catchment for what magazines can’t do. While the print magazine industry is busy dying, social media is there to amplify whatever the young generation is doing,” he said.

Referencing the Afropunk festival in Joburg, which gathered a crowd of bold, fashion-forward attendees visibly inspired by their African roots, Shezi noted that social media coverage of the event helped showcase their creative expression.

“For kids at that age to be able to feel confident and express themselves to that level is relatively new for us, and it's adding to this pot that is very fertile at the moment for African fashion. It's a good space to be in and I just hope that everyone sees that and harnesses it.”

Access Lauren Hartzenberg’s original article on Bizcommunity, here.

#Feature #Menswear #AfricanLuxury #MensStyle #MensFashion

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

#STYLE: Nasty C Sports PUMA’s Latest Drop – The RS-X Trophies

South Africa’s Metro FM Awards Best New Artist winner, Nasty C, is the latest musical flavor to rock a pair of PUMA kicks in a localised campaign. Continuing with their salute to the newsmakers of the digital era, PUMA South Africa has slipped the SA rapper, songwriter and record producer into the seasonal debut – the RS-X Trophies. The ideology behind this iteration of the RS-X sneaker is to celebrate reinvention of fame in an era of social media and reality television.

In the US, the campaign is faced-off by the hot (figuratively and literally) American rapper and producer, G-Eazy. The sneaker, available in a variety of colourways, was innovative and incorporated high-quality cushioning technology back in the 80s. Today, it boasts all that and more, on steroids. Extreme, exaggerated and remixed, the silhouette celebrates reinvention and is evidently OG-inspired.

The RS-X Trophies drops on 1 February for R1999 at PUMA Stores, sportscene, X-Trend, Side Step, Superbalist, Jack Lemkus, and selected retailers.

#PUMA #NastyC #RSXTrophies #Sneakers #PUMASouthAfrica #Sneakerheads

Monday, January 21, 2019

#LIFESTYLE: The Kove Collection’s Incognito in Review

Set in the heart of the Alphen Gardens is the Kove Collection’s newest gem – Incognito Bar. Consider an eloquent glass and steel structure overlooking green landscaping with a pool, perfectly perched on the foot of the mountain – that is exactly what you get when you discover Incognito and its location. Airy, light and architectural, the venue brings a much-appreciated contemporary spin to the more traditional, historic location and boutique hotel structure.

My blogger friend and I were lucky enough to be hosted by personal invitation and it was a wonderful Friday afternoon into evening, tipped with warm weather and a cool breeze. We received a warm reception from the venue manager, who presented us with a welcome drink, before taking us through the tapas menu and signature cocktail menu from which we were to indulge from.

Incognito during this season is adding a spectacular musical experience to the exceptional dining experience. There are Friday and Saturday sunset sessions on offer, allowing you to hide away blissfully from the bustle of the city and its after work traffic. With the delicious selection of bites from the menu to engulf and the refreshing tastes of the signature cocktails, you’re bound to convince yourself you’re somewhere other than the glamorous mother city, which mind you, is in a country recently voted as the 5th most instagrammable place in the world.

So if you’re looking for an urban escape with an outdoor backdrop, look no further than the luxurious Incognito Bar, by The Kove Collection, at The Alphen Boutique Hotel in Constantia.

#Lifestyle #Incognito #KoveCollection #foodie #foodporn #foodgram #wine #bar #mixology #cocktails #music