SAMW took place on February 8-9th, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. Unknown Union opened the show at an invite-only showing on Friday at the Radisson Red. Saturday slotted twenty menswear designers to showcase their latest AW19 collections at the V&A Waterfront. The back-to-back schedule was kicked off by Lutuleigh 10:30am while Tokyo James ended the night, showcasing at 8pm. According to IOL, ‘This year, the audience had a different type of experience that made them feel like they were part of the show. Backstage was brought out front, rehearsals formed part of the show and there was cinema lighting.’
For starters, functionality was a major theme of the day. Throwaway Twenty and Atto Tetteh proved that utility was on trend. Hiking boots, Velcro tabs, bungee cords and patch pockets were accents on oversized clothing by XM Creations and ALC Menswear to keep the cold at bay. One I Am channelled sophisticated grunge with tie-dye while leather and pleather made a comeback in Tokyo James and Martin Kadinda’s collections.
Texture theme from 2018 was brought forward using the likes of velvet, shearling, suede and fleece we. Of course the plaid, stripes, as well as, plain checks made an appearance, as did the oversized trend in general. Interestingly a couple of designers used the back of the garments to share some final thoughts. Biz Community highlighted, ‘From artistic prints to graphic logos and placement prints, emphasis was placed on the back of jackets, and tops as showcased by Rosey Vittori, Red Thread and Tokyo James.
Last but not least, the surge in gender neutral clothing. The trend, which has been slowly growing since the 1980s, infuses more liberated clothes into collections. It starts at a point of ‘if women can wear men’s clothes why can’t it be the other way round’. And it’s morphing genderless clothes that focus on how clothes look, feel and fit. Which we believe results in more wardrobe options for men and more clothes for their significant others’ to ‘borrow’. (post valentine’s joke anyone?).
Collections that we adore
Though 20 designers were planned, 16 made it to the runway for the ninth season of SAMW. The following looks caught our eye.
One I Am
And our favourite collection of the day was:
*drum roll please*
There are reasons why SAMW deserves some credit. It’s the only stand-alone platform dedicated to the development and promotion of menswear within the African continent. Working with a panel made up of leading industry experts, they strive to curate a mix of upcoming and established designers each season. Heavily modelled on London Fashion Week Men’s, SAMW seeks out unexplored and compelling spaces to host their shows. Yet, they purposely maintain a clean and minimalistic production aesthetic. Ensuring that this platform delivers the exposure each design requires.
How committed is SAMW to providing this platform you ask? No better example comes to mind than their inaugural show in 2015. The chosen space was a parking lot and there was a fair share of chaos when it came to catering service and the VIP area. Simon Deiner, co-founder of SA Menswear Week, explained to the Daily Maverick that majority of their budget was spent in hosting the designers and creating a platform to best display their designs. Furthermore, the designers weren’t charged to show their collections. As any designer can attest, showing collections free of charge is a rare occurrence. The first season of SAMW hosted 25 designers, including Lukhanyo Mdingi who used the opportunity to launch his label.
SAMW is nine seasons in; despite the challenges such as sponsorship. Design wise, there’s no doubt that there are menswear designers on the continent that can easily compete in the international market. However, to do that successfully, they need continuous exposure. There’s no denying that womenswear gets more exposure on the continent. Thus, platforms highlighting menswear are crucial. Likewise, as the demand for menswear steadily grow, and outpaces womenswear, menswear needs to be more visible on runways and online. For many, fashion shows such as SAMW introduce us to many designers we may otherwise never suggested to on our social media feeds. Fashion Weeks have certainly helped familiarize us with designers we’ve talked about above and in previous posts.
In the spirit of being objective, we do have to mention the concerns associated with any Fashion Week. Do they translate into sales for the designers? Both locally and internationally? Although SAMW keep the audiences at maximum 400 people, designers are concerned that they don’t translate into buyers. Not to mention, South Africa has three Fashion Weeks while the local market only has handful of retail buyers. As further mentioned by Daily Marverick, ‘Even though some designers get to show their ranges, much of what is seen on the ramp will never get produced, often due to a too small demand and a lack of financial and technical resources.’ Moreover, the shows may be gaining external attention, but many of SA locals remain unaware of the labels that take to the runway.
Let us know your thoughts on the collections showed at SAMW and who really stood out for you. Moreover, your thoughts on Fashion Weeks and what you think is the solution.