Here come the boys: backstage at Cape Town's newest fashion week


Now in its second season, the recently concluded South African Menswear Week (SAMW) in Cape Town is the newest addition to the country’s fashion calendar and Africa’s first fashion week solely dedicated to the boys.  Following the huge success of London Collections Men (LCM), and joining New York where the CFDA has just launched NYFW: Men’s, SAMW is a reflection of the rise of the contemporary menswear market globally. SAMW organisers hope to showcase its designers at LCM in the near future while continuing to create awareness of African menswear both at home and abroad.

For SS16, SAMW showcased 28 designers from across the continent and the highlights came thick and fast. Young Johannesburg label OATH by Rich Mnisi opted for bold prints and geometric silhouettes. Straps, buckles and rope ties adorned sporty separates in shades of black, white and electric orange. Augustine by Justine August took us on tropical journey, equipping her men with utility jackets, micro shorts, bulging backpacks and safari hats. Hotly tipped emerging name Lukhanyo Mdingi embraced a minimal aesthetic. Simple jumpsuits, shirts and trousers in shades of dark blue were paired with halo millinery from Crystal Birch.  By contrast Craig Jacobs was a riot of colour. Models were painted to resemble rainbow skeletons while wearing feather print jackets, mesh tops and drop-crotch shorts.

Fresh from showing at the Constellation Africa show at Pitti Imagine in Rome, Central Saint Martins MA graduate Laduma Ngxokolo showed his award-winning MaxHosa by Laduma line. He graphic monochrome knitwear is influenced by his Xhosa heritage. Other notable moments from the three days of shows included Magent’s rowdy streetwear, Presidential Shirt’s take on elder statesman attire and Orange Culture’s Etched Journey collection inspired by Lagosian fishermen - who in designer Adebayo Okelawal’s re-telling, all carry rather fetching man bags.

Photography Neil Roberts
Words Ntokozo Kunene