Friday, March 9, 2012

Renaissance Man: Q&A with Masego Maponyane

Image Copyright to Kristen-Lee Moolman for

"2011 contained bags of challenges, stretches of hurdles and favourable champion breakfasts for Masego Maponyane, more affectionately known as Maps. With an impressive list of personal achievements and a more public reward of fashionably stepping up in style to 2nd spot at the GQ Best Dressed Men Awards for 2011, The Renaissance Men could not deny the intrigue of finding out what kind of headspace, a man so young and reveled in style columns, would be in 2012, looking back at his past twelve months. We took a moment to find out what got Maps, pronounced, Mups, going and where we should be possibly looking out for him in the near future."

So, #2 at the GQ Best Dressed 2011 Awards. What exactly does that title mean to and for you?
2nd place at the GQ Best Dressed 2011 Awards means a fair lot to me. I love clothes, a sense of individuality, and identity. Fashion and clothes are essentially my way of fusing all the above to express the type of person that I am in a way that I feel comfortable with, and the fact that this expression is recognized by a platform like GQ is an honorary bonus. What it means for me, however, is that hopefully more doors in the corridor of my dreams opening up so that I can get to the other side having walked through enough of the right ones to get to where I would like to be.

How much South African design/clothing do you consume and advocate on a daily basis?
On a daily basis, I advocate a great deal of South African clothing. The level of talent in our country is quite something and I have been lucky to have met and worked with a couple of the designers. We’re definitely on the right track, and I will always be the first to defend the design skill we have in this country whenever the debate question quality arises. I make a conscious effort to consume as much as I can because the only way that we can see any growth in the industry is if we all support one another; luckily there is a great scale of fantastic SA fashion items that I am more than happy to always consume. I currently own clothes from about nine SA designers.

What are you currently study?
I am studying a BA in International Relations, French, English, and Media Studies at Wits. 2012 is my final year of my undergraduate degree studies, the end of which will bring about some interesting decisions to be made.

What do you plan on doing with this qualification in the next 5 to 6 years?
Wow, Monde, I don’t even know where to begin to answer a question like that. I am driven by people, as well as by my ambitions, of which there are a myriad. There is no way of really giving an accurate answer to this of course, but all I know is that I would like to have been as productive as possible in doing things that I love and making them work for me, as opposed to me working for them. I want to look back 5 years down the line with a smile on my face, looking at my successes and failures with absolutely no regrets, complemented by a ticked list of goals knowing that I am on the right course.

Commentator, model and TV presenter at present. Which comes first to you, naturally, and are you planning on developing it further?
In terms of those 3 I would say that presenter comes first as I know that I have a direct interaction with people, and people are what really comes first to me. Commentating is a skill that you develop and requires you to be able to think fast and not leave your mouth behind, so it has been a fun journey developing it – it’s a lot trickier than you may think. With regards to modeling, well whatever I do I like to do it 100% and produce the best final product that I can; I’ve just been quite fortunate and lucky with modeling that I have believed in myself enough for clients to want to hire me to advertise their products and garments. You require a great deal of thick skin in the industry otherwise it will eat you alive. If you persevere, don’t take it for granted, and make it quite obvious that you want to add value, then I feel people will reward for this. I still have a long way to go, a veeeeeery long way, but I know I have been one of the luckier few.

Having been noted as a man of style, what is your take on the current state of menswear in South Africa?
Now this is something that has exciting me lately. The current state of menswear South Africa is certainly one that shouts GROWTH. More and more new menswear designers are coming to the fore in our country, and this can be seen with each season of the fashion weeks in SA – of which there are far too many in my opinion, but that’s a subject for another time. The quality is of a world class standard and it makes me very proud to be apart of. Some of my favourite SA menswear labels include Ephymol; House of Ole; Silver Spoon; Aidriaan Kuiters; Suzaan Heyns; Babatunde; Simon Depporres and Terrence Bray, and the list goes on.

In your opinion, what is or are the key issue(s) facing SA men when it comes to fashion as opposed to their brothers in Europe and Japan?
Good question. I honestly think that the issue has always been due to our level of choice in terms quality and variety in the past years. However, that is not the case nowadays, and SA men just need to be willing to go out there and look for those items that work for them and not the generic ‘strictly department store’ look, that SA men have perfected with ease. I think this will change over time though; of course culture has played a big role too, but SA menswear designers are definitely going to make our lives easier. In Europe fashion is a multi billion dollar industry; the Japanese are geniuses who celebrate and laud individuality – not to mention that the textile industry is dominated by as well as originates from Asia.

Do you foresee SA men turning up the heat this summer with adventurous and brave colour and print combinations; or will it be the same safe, boardshorts and branded tee look again?
As each season comes and goes we will see more and more South African men grab hold of their style and own it, but it’s a process, you need to have an idea of what works for you and what doesn’t. Of course on the other hand there are those who just couldn’t care less about their presentation. Although I feel that these people tend to be lying to themselves, I can respect that, but I have faith.

In a broad sense, fashion is a term used to define the clothes any community wears during a certain period in a specific location. Style, generally refers to how a person or persons will wear the fashions of the day to individually define who they are. Which muses define your style and how do you wear the fashion today, to create your own identity?
I am the absolute antithesis to narrow-mindedness. It is something paramount as well as enjoyable for me to learn about a great deal about different types of people, cultures, and society; then bring these altogether to shape my way of thinking and my expression of style. We all go on about wanting to have complete freedom but then we contradict ourselves by failing to express this in every aspect of our lives. I hate the feeling of being limited, and my dress sense is one of my favourite outlets of stamping my freedom of self.

Your 3 wardrobe staples no man should ever be without?
 Damnit another good question J Tough to answer but the first 3 staples for a man to have in his wardrobe that come to mind are: 1. A good pair of fitted Chinos, 2. A well tailored dark suit, and 3. A good brown leather belt.
I know I didn’t mention any footwear but if you have the above then chances are you can go barefoot and still look good, rather don’t though.

What would you like to see happening with menswear in the next 5 years in South Africa?
 I’d just like to see South African men embracing our designers and mixing them up with labels from elsewhere, making it work for them and still looking good. In the same breath it would be nice to see this happening without a sense of being label driven, because at the end of the day the best style is one that incorporates all the different levels of ‘fashion’.

So, what’s next for Maps?
 You know what, I’ve been feeling like I’m doing something right lately and I’m enjoying this path that I’m currently on. Although I am involved in a few things, you just never know do you, your guess is as good as mine.

Lastly, whom do you consider to be a South African renaissance man, and why?
 There is a prevalent emerging group of South African renaissance men that it would be difficult to single someone out. However, one of my life inspirations is the exuberance with which the men during the times of Sophia Town lived their lives, and I sense that another one is on the way.

PS Why ‘Maps’?
‘Maps’ is a nickname that came about from my days of primary school when people tendered to butcher the pronunciation of my surname, which really isn’t that difficult at all, trust me, even Americans can pronounce it correctly. One of the key examples is the mispronunciation of “my-punani” instead of Maponyane; that called for some sorts of an intervention. After that it has stuck and has been one of my affectionate names. It’s short simple and easy to remember.

Follow Masego on Twitterland - @S_Maps

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