South African Menswear Week hits its stride in Cape Town for AW16

“We wanted to show Africa and the world that we had credible designers offering menswear that could compete with the best,” says South African Menswear Week co-founder (and catwalk photographer extraordinaire) Simon Denier of his original vision for SAMW. “We also wanted to discover and work with new talent to grow their brands.” It was mission accomplished at the third edition of SAMW in Cape Town last week. Over 30 designers from South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe presented their AW16 collections across four days of shows and collectively proved that the boys know how to show out.

Local favourites AKJP and Mdingi x Coutts both reprised their recent outing together at Uomo Pitti Immagine in January (read our review here) while new names Siviwe James and Nao Serati made their debuts with gender fluid warriors and sporty rompers respectively. Tzvi Karp, who describes his aesthetic as “Sikh Punk”, brought the club kids out to play in metallic leggings, S&M straps and oodles of rainbow frills topped off by teddy bear hats and furry caps by Crystal Birch.

Streetwear was high on the agenda thanks to Maxivive’s shocking pink silken trackies and 2Bop’s simple shirts, shorts and hoodies worn by models with cardboard box heads. Orange Culture opted for distressed knits and sweat tops with ‘Touch me’ and ‘Feel me’ emblazoned across them. Tokyo James layered string knits with elongated arms over pared back tailoring in rich shades of blue, red and silver.  And Augustine got rough and tough with its patchwork of black leathers and velvets held together with industrial buckles. Wrap dungarees and biker jackets were key.

Upcoming designer Jenevieve Lyons dedicated her collection to freckles, gingers and albinos. Her boys were given dotty faces and geeky goggles, which complimented deconstructed blazers, elbow-flashing tops and drawstring pants in natural tonal colours. Ropes over shoulders and mini luggage cases gave the show an explorer spirit.

Equally alluring, Rich Mnisi looked to South Africa’s Zulu tribe for his line of high waisted shorts, ribbed knits, cropped jackets and statement coats in moreish shades of plum, leaf and earth. “Zulus are very ornate in their traditional apparel and adopt a governing approach to colour, proportion and texture,” Mnisi explains. “The collection explores the recklessness that comes with inconsistency, so each look has it’s own personality.” 

The last day belonged to Chu Suwannapha of Chulaap whose outdoor show at a military base was set against views of Table Mountain. He took cues from I See A Different You’s African travels for his Make Art Not War collection. Camouflage, spot, tiger stripe, geometric and wax prints mixed and clashed across chunky knits, tailored trousers, surplus jackets and Basotho blankets with a machine gun motif recurring throughout. Elaborate accessories including sculptural headphones and embellished backpacks came courtesy of Pichulik. Stand to attention because SAMW is charging ahead.

Photography Neil Roberts at Hero Creative Management
Words Helen Jennings