The knitting of collaborative networks and the shaping of a sustainable fashion future for South Africa are among the themes inspiring the next edition of SAFW, which is being organised with the support of Mall of Africa, Mr Price, Cruz Vodka, Oppo, Carlton Hair and M.A.C makeup.
Now in its 26th year, the fashion platform will host 11 shows over three days and show 39 collections. It will also feature both a contingent of designers and models from neighbouring Mozambique Fashion Week as well as this year’s participants in the collaborative Italian/South African Fashion Bridges – I Ponti della Moda project.
“Regional and intercontinental collaborations such as these allow all parties to knit networks of beneficial mutual support. They allow us to share skills and insights, open unexplored business opportunities, and ultimately, to extend the sphere of our respective creative visions beyond our familiar borders,” says director Lucilla Booyzen.
According to Booyzen, the return of fashion chain Mr Price as the headline sponsor of the New Talent Search, marks another exciting development. The New Talent Search is traditionally the opening show of the new season and one of the most-watched events due to its track record for early detection of top emerging creatives. This year’s entrants were again challenged to demonstrate their talent for print development as well as their commitment to a sustainable fashion future.
“The support of a leading fashion mover and shaker such as Mr Price gives immeasurable impetus to the determination of our new generation of designers to clean up fashion’s act with an unequivocal commitment to sustainable and healthy practice,” says Booyzen.
The 2023 Mr Price New Talent Search, will introduce the following designers and their labels:
The 2022 winner of the search, Thando Ntuli, will close the show with her Isikhathi/Time SS23 Munkus collection.
The Cruz Collective, sponsored by the premium vodka brand, will introduce new collections by inaugural Fashion Bridges participants Sipho Mabuto and Fikile Zamagcino Sokhulu, as well as East-meets-African Elysian-Ego collection by Cape Town-based Michael Ludwig Studio.
Listed in 2013 by Forbes magazine as one of Africa’s best young entrepreneurs, Thula Sindi, owner of the renowned Africa Rise retail collective for South African designers, returns to SAFW where he debuted his first range in 2005. He will launch his 'From a Selection' collection – a tribute to the customers who support the Africa Rise designers.
For the Oppo Collections lineup, Jacques van der Watt will explore three-dimensional clothing as he unveils what he calls “a love letter to the exaggerated silhouettes” of his past classic couture collections for Black Coffee SS23, while the tailored craftmanship of SAFW stalwart Hangwani Nengovhela’s Rubicon brand, and the fashion-forward Essie SS23 collection complete the showcase.
The third edition of Fashion Bridges – I Ponti della Moda, the collaboration between the Italian embassy and its partners Polimoda Firenze, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana and the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana, in collaboration with SA Fashion Week, will introduce the new collections of Italian designer, Federico Cina, a finalist in the 2022 LVMH Prize for young fashion designers, and South Africa's Lezanne Viviers, who debuted her Viviers Studio signature at Milan Fashion Week earlier this year.
South African brands Research Unit, Isabel de Villiers, Bam Collective and Belhauzen feature collectively on the second-day programme. Meanwhile, Helen Gibbs will unveil the clean and uncluttered, seasonless and earth-friendly Helon Melon 2023 collection in a double bill with creative hub Artclub and Friends.
SAFW’s commitment to the organic development of the local design industry by developing and introducing new creative talents to the market, is evidenced in the lineup of the menswear signatures. Former Scouting Menswear winners Boyde by Samkelo Boyde Xaba (2020) and Refuse Clothing (2022), will showcase their collections alongside 2022 finalist Gugu by Gugu and family-based collective Fuata Moyo.
In a celebration of local fashion heritage, Vanya Mangaliso will join forces with one of SAFW’s best-loved menswear designers, Ephraim Molingoana, to respectively unveil their Sungoddess and Ephymol 2023 collections.
A first-ever collaboration between Mozambique and South African Fashion Weeks will wrap up SS23 with a grand finale showcasing of Mozambiquan signatures Chibaia, Mabenna and Cuccla, accompanied by four top Mozambican models Rachel Mbiza, Chantel Tomo, Rússel António and Ivanildo Lourenço.
“The cross-border regional meeting of fashion minds represents a significant opportunity to advance a responsible and sustainable vision in the development process of the fashion industry in both Mozambique and South Africa. It is an initiative that will help undoubtedly create jobs for young people and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in our collective industries,” says Vasco Rocha, founder of Mozambique Fashion Week.
Rocha added that promoting cultural and creative industries is a powerful way to boost the local economy and empower communities.
Leemisa Tsolo, head of asset and property management - retail of Attacq Limited, the owners of Mall of Africa, comments, “Mall of Africa has had the privilege of hosting the South African Fashion Week for the past three years.”
“We know our consumers are increasingly wanting to express a contemporary, yet uniquely African, fashion identity, and therefore draw enormous reassurance from the prospect of adding many more local success stories like Laduma Ngxokolo’s iconic Xhosa-inspired signature, to our tenant mix,” he says.