30 Nov 2023 ///

Chapter 22 | 23 of 2023 – A Round-table with Tanatswa Amisi, Ulindelwe Ratsibe and Odwa Zamane

An Interlude year-end retrospective is becoming a bit of tradition. Last year, I was joined by Tanatswa Amisi, AKA @iobservefashion on Tiktok and Instagram – one of South Africa’s principle voices in fashion as we looked at ‘22 moments of 2022’ for our Chapter 11 edition. Now, a whole year later, Chapter 22 is the culmination of a round-table conversation with Tantatswa, joined by fashion journalist Ulindelwe Ratsibe of Maison NMB and Front Row Media founder Odwa Zamane – as well as our very own founder, Candice Erasmus. It’s suffice to say many-a-tea was spilled! Interestingly, though – was a shared sentiment that fashion (as a global industry) felt less resonant with us this year than last year. Our local fashion industry had another incredible year. Perhaps, this speaks to the success of our local industry as grabbing our attention far more than over-saturated, commodified northern industry. 

Fashion is a beautiful behemoth and those of us who love it (and hate to love it) have never been more able to discuss, dissect and analyse its monstrous, magnificent movements in the world. It is with great pleasure that Interlude can spotlight these three minds in South African fashion journalism & critical thinking; who it is necessary, critical, ESSENTIAL for you to follow. Tantswa, Uli and Odwa are at the forefront of fashion thought and my gratitude is to them for enriching the final chapter of Interlude, for 2023. 

The following conversation was split up into local and international moments (with three surprise moments by Candice and I). Let’s get into it.

Tantswa’s Moments

When Trevor Stuurman shot the campaign for the new Gucci store in Durban
I think this moment was peak, African luxury. I did a video about it on my TT and so many people expressed that it amplified their pride for being Zulu. All of the traditional elements that were brought into the campaign were incredible. I alway say that when you have European luxury in a space of African luxury; the European one falls to the background. It felt so contemporary and opulent.

Trevor Stuurman for Gucci, courtesy of @trevorstuurman IG

When Thebe Magugu launched their Heirloom Shirt campaign
“This really exceeded my expectations. I knew it would resonate locally but when I saw people like Miichelel Obama, Lupita Nyong’o – I felt like the fabric of the brand has officially been cemented. This was a campaign that transcended even Thebe Magugu’s already-established focus on heritage and story-telling.

Thebe Magugu launches customer Heirloom Shirt, courtesy of Thebe Magugu PR

When Luke Radloff’s UNI FORM won the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation X Overda Price…
“This was a bit of a personal moment for me as I’ve connected a lot with Luke this year and he had expressed to me that he really wanted the brand to become something big, and I think this moment was so huge in showing that UNI FORM is going to do precisely that. The brand is at the forefront of South African luxury and I’m so excited to see their international trajectory. It’s one of the most authentic brands in existence.”

Luke Radloff, courtesy of @uniformza

When Sithasolwazi Kentane launched SEVEN…
I think 2023 was really Sitha’s year for launching her luxury, leather goods brand, SEVEN. I met her earlier this year at a UNI FORM event and she invited me through to the launch at her store. They’re just the most magnificent bags and all of these moments together are finally creating what I want to see from Johannesburg as a fashion capital, and seeing the diversity of different wins and moments from people in South Africa – we are finally making strides.”

Luxury leather brand SEVEN by Sithasolwazi Kentane, courtesy of @thesevenstore.co

When Lagos-based concept store Alára did a pop-up at the Brooklyn Museum…
“This was such a major moment for me. I love when we see African fashion take up space on its own and lead with its own clout. Even though this was a collaboration with an American institution, I loved that this was so ‘Alára’ – from the crowd, to the pop-up installation – it really looked like the essence of Lagos was centred, but also they featured so many African designers from around the continent as part of their pop-up from Lukhanyo to Thebe to Kenneth Ize.

When Sarah Burton left McQueen…
“I felt like this was a stab in the heart. While we’re seeing African fashion progress, I feel like we’re also seeing this whole other side of fashion crumble before our eyes. There wasn’t much that was keeping me invested in fashion globally, this year – and one of my few saving graces was Sarah. I just see it as part of the white, male creative directors leading brands and I’m so over it.”

When the Mowalola X Beats collaborative campaign featured JT of the City Girls
“I loved that JT was the choice for this. They got a lot of backlash with people saying that JT should stick to Fashion Nova, and her response was incredible – she posted a video saying that people just want Black women to fit into a certain aesthetic. She really advocated for herself and I think JT is going to become our generation’s Lil Kim, who had her Galliano era and is an eternal fashion icon.

Mowalola X Beats feature City Girl’s JT in campaign, courtesy of Beats

Odwa’s Moments

When Thebe Magugu collaborated with Orlando Pirates and adidas…
“This was huge for me not only as a fashion practitioner, but as someone with an affinity for football culture. It’s really interesting to see how many trends have sprung from soccer, spilling over into fashion. Orlando Pirates are so historical and heritage, so having one of the biggest soccer clubs in the country aligned with the biggest designer in South African. It was actually really controversial in the beginning, but I think that kind of risk-taking is so great to see in our local market, and the campaign by Room Studios was amazing.”

Thebe Magugu X Orlando Pirates in partnership with adidas, campaign by Room Studio

When Chant Radio started popping off…
“I love seeing collectives take off that merge the power of having a clothing brand with IRL experiences. Chant just collaborated with Motherland from Lagos for a sonic experience and meeting of the two brands. I love them because they really bring together a community of Gen-Z creatives, congregating around fashion, art and music – particularly connecting the African diaspora.”

Tee Drop by Chant, courtesy of @chantradio_ IG

When iQHAWE Magazine launched their first print edition…
“iQhawe Magazine profile overlooked and underrepresented creatives within the industry and they’re 100% Black-owned, femme-led company. They launched their first print edition and I think more light needs to be shone on the fact that they did that. Especially doing print! They shot it, printed and launched it – on top of their digital offering – it was such a hopeful moment for the future of local publishing and Black creative expression.”

iQHAWE Magazine launch their first print edition, courtesy of @iqhawemagazine

When Marc Jacobs…well, Marc Jacobs-ed…
“There’s nothing Marc didn’t do this year. From honouring Vivienne Weswtood in a collection this year, to the performance of the brand, to the success of ‘HEAVN’ which enriches his undiverse and is so nostalgic of the 90s era. It is so rare for an OG designer to really be able to cultivate a direct-to-consumer relationship with a much younger audience like Gen-Z’s and Marc just keeps showing his range in doing that. 

When the British Vogue changes took place…
“When Edward Enninfdul stepped down from British Vogue, we weren’t sure what was going to happen. Chioma Nnadi being appointed to the role, as the first Black, woman editor, was amazing news. Chioma was previously the Vogue US online editor which is an interesting background – because I think British Vogue print has been so incredibly strong under Enninful, and I think she’s going to bring some digital savvy to the publication as it looks to continue integrating its online and print offerings.”

When Brenda Hashtag became fashion editor of 032c…
“This was such a genius move. I used to follow Brenda on twitter and she’s been iconic for years. She was previously black-listed from the industry for speaking up about various things – and seeing her leverage TikTok, twitter and meme-culture to build an independent following, and then coming back as fashion editor of 032c (one of the coolest publications) is so commendable.”

Ulindelwe’s Moments

When Munkus collaborated with Pick ‘n Pay and Broke collaborated with Old Khaki…
“The idea of people being able to buy a piece of a designer or brand that they love, and having accessibility to their universe – is fantastic. It also brings visibility for South African fashion to a wider audience. Also, these are produced locally and our textile industry needs it. Our textile and garment industry has been getting back on its feet and seeing work like this is so promising.”

BROKE X OLD KHAKI courtesy of Broke PR

When Dicker & Dane shot the Vogue Portugal cover… 
“This might be a bit of nepotism for me! But the first African creative duo with African models on a Vogue cover? It says it all. They are both extraordinary people and are really pushing to highlight local talent in the teams that they put together whether here or internationally.”

Dicker & Dane for Vogue Portugal, June 2023

When SELFI and Wanda Lephoto showed with Folklore in New York & Paris…
“SELFI was in New York and Wanda was in Paris with Folklore, in September. Just accessing those customer bases and with such a massive platform like Folklore? Especially for Celeste and Wanda to be in big fashion capitals, it made me so excited for our local industry and potential.”

When Beyonce did what she did for her Renaissance World Tour…
“A hundred looks from designers across the globe. There’s always been this conversation about her fashion sense – which I will not defend – but I think this shows how powerful she is. Beyonce gave small designers a huge platform and she gave a lot of designers that she’s worked with – and the Black women designers, too – like Senegalese brand Tongoro. I think it was a defining moment.” 

When Lagos Space Program won the Woolmark Prize…
“This was incredible. They’re doing amazing things as a brand, and we’ve seen how Woolmark can be such a catalyst for huge things – so I’m really excited to see where this takes the brand.”

When the term ‘supermodel’ came back…
“People like Anok Yai, Mona Tougaard and Bella Hadid are currently the faces of fashion and to me, it’s a clear distinction between what the industry was beforehand and where it is now – and where it is going. We are in that moment again when models are building relationships with designers again.”

Anok Yai for Acne Studios, courtesy of @anokyai IG

Mona Tougaard for POP Magazine, courtesy of @mona_tougaard IG

Bella Hadid for Vogue Italia, courtesy of @bellahadid IG

Holly’s Moments 

When Refuse dropped their Mr Price Collaboration…
“Refuse won the Mr Price Scouting Menswear Design prize at SA Fashion Week last year, and was already very exciting. This year, their collaborative collection was launched and it’s so great to see that the award has such an impactful follow-through and tangible success for a brand. I’m excited to see the outcome of this year’s winner, Robyn Agulhas’ SinCHUI, and what they do together in 2024.”

Mr Price X REFUSE, courtesy of Mr Price PR

When Lukhanyo Mdingi won the Amiri Prize…
“I think we have so many designers that are showing what it means to seize opportunity. Lukhanyo is leading the charge and it’s such a beautiful testament to the label’s continued success and centering of human ingenuity and craftsmanship. In South Africa, we need to pursue resources, opportunities and funding and I love that Lukhanyo Mdingi as a designer expresses that blueprint for aspiring fashion designers of the next generation. I also think it’s an important lesson in understanding that building a brand is not a miracle – you can be as talented as possible – but having the endurance and determination, and dynamically making choices that can lead to longevity, is really the difference.”

Lukhanyo Mdingi BURKINA Sport, Photographed by Luke Houba

Candice’s moment 

When Sindiso Khumalo collaborated with & Other Stories…
“I really loved this international collaboration, but still available at an accessible level. Sindiso has such a clear vision for her label and I love seeing designers who know themselves, find alignment that takes South African fashion forward.”

Sindiso Khumalo X &Other Stories, photographed by Hedvig Jenning, courtesy of @sindisokhumalo IG

Written by: Holly Beaton
For more news, visit the Connect Everything Collective homepage www.ceconline.co.za

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