Friday, March 23, 2012

Menswear at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg 2012

I generally try not to take anything in life too seriously, especially fashion. If anything, I take it all with a pinch of salt as I’m fully aware that certain things taken seriously will leave you with egg on the face.  So when Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2012 (MBFWJ12) released the line-up of designers for this year’s showing, and I only saw three menswear brands, I didn’t get a heart attack. Sure, some heartbreak was experienced, but my heart is still pumping blood to my vital organs perfectly fine.

This year, we saw the labels – Fabiani, CSquared and Distinctive Man – take to the ramp. Out of these three, my research indicates that Distinctive Man is the youngest label of out the lot, with Fabiani and CSquared being the more matured labels of the tag team. For this post, I’m going to do a recap of their showings and give my personal (operative word here being personal) opinion on their A/W 12 collections, which should be in-store by now, otherwise they’re going to miss the season.

Thursday, March 8 – Fabiani
Fabiani showcased on Thursday, March 8, at around 19h00. To be honest with you, I didn’t have much to consider about the collection showcased this year. The brand is very limited in its creativity and also I think they are bound by other design restrictions. We know their staples – tailored slim-fit suits, 2-button or double-breasted; the mafia hat; pocket-squares and the like. So frankly, I’m not going to talk about their showing as I feel they didn’t push their boundaries far enough.

Friday, March 9 – CSquared
CSquared is one of those brands that can easily take you by surprise if you’re not paying attention. They could also be one of those brands that get caught up in their own campaign and forget to check how far the concept has been articulated in the work they produce. Coming out with a bang, CSquared presented a collection they politically correctly titled, #CsquaredRed. A somewhat, Russian Revolution theme.

Courtesy of SDR Photo

 What I didn’t like about the collection was the lack of fur or wool use in the cuffs and lapels of the coats, especially the overcoats. The big bushy hats were not reinforced throughout the collection, only at the opening of the show and the lack of bold reflective squared-off sunglasses (those similar to skiing goggles). There were no knits whatsoever, not even a cardigan of some sort. I saw one or two scarves and no gloves. Boots were nowhere to be seen but there was quite a showing of glitterati vests on the ramp. There was also inclusion of a summery look using white pants, shirt and sports jackets in light but bright-ish fabrics.

Images courtesy of SDR Photo
 
What I “Oh-So-Loved” from the collection were the following: The simple yet effective translation of military coats, double breasted and mid-thigh in length were fun. The shoulder details were also a bit edgy for the cut and consumer targeted with this show. The tailored ‘day/work’ look using the slim-cut navy pants with powder blue shirt with tassel on pocket and baroque shoulder chain detail finished with the pastel pink bow tie really kicked it for me when it came to going to work with an edge. I thought the blue checked shirt with purple checked bow tie ensemble was rocking. It deserves major respect as the look can be worn as is on the street but you will need the attitude to carry it. And then, there were the jackets with the leather upper lapels. I died momentarily and went to heaven. Leather is back people, in case you didn’t know, and I think the application thereof in these jackets is key to introducing a man to leather.

Courtesy of SDR Photo

Courtesy of SDR Photo

Courtesy of SDR Photo

Courtesy of SDR Photo


Saturday, March 10 – Distinctive Man
Distinctive Man is a label that took me by surprised. They had showcased last year at Africa Fashion Week, according to my research and it’s a brand born from creative minds seeing a gap in the market and going for it. Wish more people would follow suit. This year, at MBFWJ12, Distinctive Man showcased around 16h00 in the afternoon, in a time slot shared with Grapevine and Thabani Mavundla. Being allocated a shared time slot does throw you into a disadvantage because now the number of garments showcased is limited. It also poses a great challenge because now you’re expected to really only showcase the best of what you have to offer. Meaning you don’t have time to waste.

Courtesy of SDR Photo
With having only, figuratively speaking, five minutes to make a mark, Distinctive Man left very little to get excited about.  The cuts and styles were not breakthrough or any fresher than what you would find in Fabiani. It felt as though the styles depicted were comfortable being in the safe zone and didn’t push the consumer into the realm of style and just kept them in fashion. They also pulled from the military theme the use of mid-thigh coats, but used a more refined, thinner fabric, which doesn’t make practical sense for me if I’m going to wear it as a coat in winter. Would prefer thicker fabrics in order to keep warm.

Anyway, enough of what I didn’t like. I “Oh-So-Loved” the use of colour. The variety of colour was not overwhelming but the consistent use thereof made for something interesting to see for A/W. I enjoyed the incorporation of the printed vests, although for the season, maybe translating those into shirts would have been a killer option. Essentially I think what worked for this label was it’s fun factor. You could see it wasn’t going to take itself too seriously and just wanted to present the African man with someone light-hearted to wear this season.

Courtesy of SDR Photo

Courtesy of SDR Photo

Courtesy of SDR Photo

Courtesy of SDR Photo

Courtesy of SDR Photo

Essentially, the collections presented by both CSquared and Distinctive Man are great. They are fun and easy to wear for both work and play. They are presenting options for the South African man this season and we should congratulate them on work well done. CSquared could have added some wool and more fur hats to the mix and there definitely should have been some red, as the collections title, #CsquaredRed, suggests. As for Distinctive Man, more use of African prints and more colour combinations would have been knock-out.

Courtesy of SDR Photo

So until next A/W, I’d like to say thanks to Distinctive Man and CSquared for making the cut and showcasing at MBFWJ12. It always warms my heart to see designers and labels supporting menswear in this country.

Courtesy of SDR Photo

And African Fashion International, where was Adriaan Kuiters, Robert Daniel, Stiaan Louw, or Ephymol? Surely as an establishment that pegs itself as the platform for designers in South Africa and Africa alike, you should be doing more to not only promote a healthy fashion industry in this country but a healthy support of menswear too. We shall wait and see what happens in the near future.

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