Sunday, 31 August 2014

Amateurs in a world of Fashion

With all the excitement that oozed its way through Fashion Week a few weeks ago, I can’t help but to ask myself and the public this question: is the South African Fashion scene ready to be a force to be reckoned with?

We’re all familiar with the top of the litter box. These Italian-, French- and American-bred designer labels share the same clean quality in workmanship and aesthetic appeal. Every brand has a distinct way of styling and artistic approach to one of the world’s most controversial topics – fashion, duh. 

A lot of world-famous designer labels have intricate, century-old histories that could be one of the reasons for their success. Take Chanel for example. She started her career in 1910, after opening a boutique on 21 rue Cambon in Paris. Fast-forward to 2014 where Chanel is one of the world’s most famous fashion brands in the game.   

When you ask someone to name a designer brand, names like DKNY and Louis Vuitton immediately come to mind. Unless you’re carefully tuned in with SA’s fashion scene you’d have no idea who Ernest Mahomane or Stefania Morland is. The first time I’ve heard of Danielle Margaux, is when I passed her studio in Bird Street, Stellenbosch, even though I live in Stellenbosch. 

Why is it that we put another country’s fashion on such a pedestal, and not our own? As I collect my thoughts, I wonder, why is it that our fashion industry is not a part of the international standard? Why do we struggle? Even in our own country, our top designers go unknown due to the popularity of designer labels abroad.

The South African fashion industry is still a new-born in comparison to most of the world’s fashion meccas. Our very first fashion week ignited 16 years ago when Lucilla Booyzen noticed this gap in the market. New York City had their first fashion week way back in 1943. So, yes, we still have a lot to learn. Let me put it like this; if it were to take part in an Olympiad en vogue, South Africa wouldn’t finish first.

Before the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Cape Town a month ago, I had no idea who half, the designers were. It may be due to a lack of knowledge, don’t get me wrong. However with that said, media, including television, internet and magazines, seem to bombard us with international designer brands that are halfway around the world.

It results in a community where we seem to worship unreachable and unaffordable fashion. Hey, I’m also amazed by the masterfully created art we see through media, I just think it overpowers any chance for South African designers to shine in their own way.

Recently, one of South Africa’s top fashion designers, Gavin Rajah, has allegedly copied one of Zuhair Murad dresses from his SS 2013 collection. Rajah denies this statement however, as he found any and all inspiration from the Japanese culture. Highly esteemed Gert-Johan Coetzee was told to have copied a Michael Costello design, worn by Bey at the Grammys this year. As social media demands an explanation, I can’t help thinking whether South African Fashion isn’t merely regurgitation from what we see on Fashion TV? 

The South African Fashion scene can’t compete at this stage in time to the lead in competition from international popularity. We all know a Chanel Bag when we see one. It’s quite easy to identify a one-of-a-kind Elie Saab dress. I dare to go so far as recognising a pure Versace creation – ergo, Jennifer Lopez. I just cannot say the same for South Africa.

This international takeover is closer to home than we think. With Forever 21 airing to open its doors, yet another chain store occupies our attention. It joins the likes of Zara, Topshop, and soon, H&M. Of course, it’s all glitz and glam for us consumers. But behind the scenes it’s attacking our local brands. 

According to Lauren Avgitidis, brand manager of TopShop and Topman SA, South African Consumers have become increasingly aware of international brands, leading to an astute and trend-focused consumer. She further states that this is also the reason for international interest in our vibrant soil. Because we received a taste of these foreign brands, we’ve become hungry for all the latest trends, straight from The US, UK, and more. This proves to become more and more competition for the proudly South African brands in a sea of foreignism.

As a result, young up-and-coming designers will have some difficulty getting their feet in a door or two. Ntinthi Nteta – a top South African blogger – states that the presence of foreign brands has a negative outcome for independent South African designers. "It's really not a choice between Mr Price and a foreign competitor. It's a choice between Topshop and a local small-scale designer. If someone is able to spend 1,000 ZAR on a basic dress from Topshop, they are also able to spend that on a local designer." South African consumers are simply not spending that much money on local brands or designers.

How can wishful designers compete with either multi-million dollar fashion labels or invasive foreign brands that local boutiques cannot begin to compete with? It’s astounding and glorious to have a passion for all things fashion, but on a realistic view, one has to make a living for oneself, and the views for a living in fashion designs – in South Africa – seems to dim like theatre lights.

So what do we have to look forward to - an increase of international domination and the decrease of dreams for a local fashion industry? In frightens me to have to think our local talent struggles so much. Let’s not forget that there are some designers, who achieve greatness abroad, but we can argue that it’s nothing compared to the big leagues.

Hey, we aren’t South Africans for nothing. I think that somehow, our fashion industry will one day be able to dominate a rich and vibrant culture as ours. We’re unique and diverse, and that will probably be the factor that puts us above the rest. 

Anelisa Mangcu - SA blogger 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

MBFW : Champagne & Stilettos, a life lesson

Mercedes Benz Cape Town Fashion Week - literally the one week of the whole year I was looking forward to the most. As the weeks went by and the day got closer I couldn't get any more excited. What made me even more excited was the fact that I had secured myself an internship with a fabulous designer and I was going to be in with the glitterati. I was going to chill with the beautiful, dirty and rich.
The day finally came, my mom came to school around 10h30 and we hit the road. En route Cape Town Fashion Week. I got there, met up with my designer, met the production team and got to work. Armed with my day pass and lots of enthusiasm, I entered a world of midday Martinis and Vogue slims. I took on the day's tasks like a boss. Up and down the Mother city, rehearsals, sorting seating charts and making goodie bags. It was all a fat jam. I enjoyed every single moment of it. 

There's this thing about not being treated like the youngster you really are you know. That feeling when someone 10 years your senior asks you if you'd like a 'fag' and you're all like 'Maybe later' when you actually just don't smoke. I felt like a younger Carrie Bradshaw. Skipping school 'cause I had to go to Fashion Week. This was my opportunity to see just how great things could be for me as a designer one day. 

Fast forward to the end of the night and I sat there like 'What a day/night', as if last year’s internship at Seventeen wasn’t enough to show me just how much goes into the fashion world. The people I met and the contacts I made, life couldn't be better. There’s nothing I would change about 25 July 2014. People sometimes think internships are a waste of time, but dude. The feeling of being around people that feel as passionate about something as you do is just amazing.

The designers I met and spoke to, were the most phenomenal people. 

Everyone always thinks that the fashion industry and fashion shows are frivolous, that it’s all stiletto’s and champagne.. Nah bra. Yeah, people in the fashion industry do bitch and stitch but, a lot goes into creating a fashion show. A lot goes into becoming a brand, an essential in someone's closet, an icon. The one thing I appreciated most was the fact that people appreciated my knowledge of fashion, as young as I was. I walked out of that fashion show inspired, motivated and excited for what lies ahead for me. As much as I do not plan on studying fashion, I do look forward to having a label one day.

The thing about starting to work/intern so young is that it gives me an idea of just how great things can be for me. A lot of the time, I find myself in conversations with girls my age (17) with aspirations of meeting their future husbands at varsity (hopefully some engineer), marrying rich and never hope to work a day in their lives. Look, there's nothing wrong with wanting to fall in love in varsity, but the idea of being financially dependent on a guy who might just up and go one day? That's not so appealing. A lot of girls feel like they only need to start working once they move out of their parents’ homes, which I don't agree with. 

I got my first paying job last year and it was the most liberating feeling I've ever felt. These days you don't even need a résumé to start making money, do it for yourself, while you can still chop and change jobs. Do it now before you get stuck on a 9-5 that you can't leave because you spent like 5 years studying it. 

I feel that it is never too early to start working on your career or future. Invest every bit of yourself into it now. Besides, your career will never just wake up one morning and tell you it doesn’t love you anymore. That rich guy just might. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Spend nada to look like Prada

When one is in need of some therapy, retail therapy is best right? But now what happens when you're broke? No retail therapy? Pffft, no. You become a smart shopper. The one ability that any good fashionista should possess is the ability to ball on a budget. 

You see, not all of us are blessed with unlimited access to mom and dad's credit card.. Hell, some of us don't  own even one ourselves. So, we took it upon ourselves to teach you the tricks of the trade on being a discount diva. 

Being a smart shopper is as easy as a Sunday morning. Besides, shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist! These tips aren't only on shopping, but just general tips on style and how to look your best on a budget.

  • Going to the shop is not necessary. 
Honey, its 2014, you don't need to go anywhere to do some shopping. A few questions you should ask yourself when you want a specific item are can I get it for free? Or is anyone selling something like it?. No I did not make a mistake when I said 'can I get it for free?’. You see, you need new clothes and I'm sure your mates do too, so arrange a clothes swap. It's a great way to have a girls' night, talk fashion and get free stuff. No paying needed, just swapping. Another option to consider is eBay, Gumtree or OLX. There are hundreds of people always looking to get rid of unwanted items. You know what they say, one man's trash, is another man's treasure.

You know those sales that shops have but then the clothes are not in season? Use them. A lot of the times you get to a shop and there's a sale for, let’s say, summer clothes and you've just started on winter. Buy them. The best things to buy off season are essentials. They're never going to go out of style (if that's what you worry about) and you will have bought them for like 70% cheaper. 

  • Go solo
When you do need to get out of your house for shopping, go alone. We know, it's a lot of fun shopping with your girls but sometimes it's not the best option. The thing with shopping on your own is that there's no pressure, no lies ('yes babe, it totally works with your body') and no-one whines about how hungry and tired they are. Shopping on your own means that your head's in the right place, you can go in-between stores and compare prices. You don't have the pressure of taking something when you're not really feeling it or if it's too pricey.

  • Use those coupons 
A lot of magazines have those 5% discount or x amount off on your next purchase coupons, so why not use them. You may not be getting much of, but, trust that in the long run, it's worth it.  You're saving money you never had babe. Think about it.

  • DIY 
This tip is probably the best one. Our parents had some insane clothes way back in their day, but unfortunately they're no longer in... So what do you do? DIY, that’s what. Take those items and have them altered to your taste and voila! You've got something new in your closet. Add a stud here, a button there and you're good to go. Actually, here's one you can try with your dad/mom's old jeans.

We hope we've helped you with these tips. You can be broke, but well dressed babes.

Imagery source :

Sunday, 3 August 2014

MBFW Cape Town

South African Fashion Week

A three-day spectacle of enchantment, artistic milieus and most importantly fashion. The Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Cape Town certainly emphasized our rainbow status. South Africa is proud of its variety in culture, and its rich colour.

The weather struck Cape Town as Fashion Week began, but of course, that didn’t stop this city from thriving in a mod kind of art. From Gavin Rajah’s eastern euphoria to Danielle Margaux's subtle elegance and femininity, it proved to be a sight to see. Noobs Ernest Mahomane, Akeedo and Blanc freshened the runway with their takes on a young and new fashion take. 

Gavin Rajah


 Stefania Morland

 Ernest Mahomane 



Kobus Dippenaar


 Danielle Margaux


Craig Port

Loin, Cloth & Ashes

Imagery Source: SDR

Oh.My.Word (N-S)

Yes, this one's a tad overdue, but trust that it was worth the wait. So today kids, we'll be enriching you with a bit more than last time. Without further a due, we give you... Oh.My.Word (N-S). Fashiongraphy, just became your favorite subject.

  • Natural Waist - A seam or waistband that secures or falls at the natural curve of the body, which I'm sure models can't get enough of, having no curves and all. They have faux curves. Yours are real. Let that be your comfort
  • Neats - These are those socks you see all the cool bloggers wear. With sandals. Enough said.
  • Notched collar - A notched collar is one you find on many formal jackets. It's a two piece collar that can be worn open. You know, for easy access.
  • Nonwovens - Nonwoven fabric is a fabric-like material made from long fibers, bonded together by chemical, mechanical, heat or solvent treatment. They are usually abrasion resistant, absorbent, biodegradable etc...

  •  Off-the-shoulder neck - A neckline that lies gently hovering across the top of the bustling with the shoulders exposed or able to be seen through the sheer yoke of net or organza attached to a high collar.
  • Ombré - Something that is shaded or graduated in tone. the colour gradually changes of shade; from dark to light. Also that thing everyone is obsessed with doing with their hair.  
  • Organza -  A crisp, sheer, lightweight plain-weave fabric, with a medium to high yarn count, made of silk, rayon, nylon, or polyester. The fabric is mostly used in evening and wedding apparel for women. Or sheman. if you're into that sort of thing.
  • Overskirt -  A skirt worn over another skirt. We never would've guessed either.
  • Outrè- Something that is overdone, outlandish or exaggerated. Basically, Lady Gaga.

  • Paperbag waist - This is when designers cinch all the extra fabric of a garment across the midriff to create an edgy feel. Plus, it makes your waist appear smaller. 
  • Passè -  French for 'No longer in style'. Like leopard on leopard. Never really was in style anyway.
  • Peasant top - This is a romantic style, often characterized with a low neckline, ruffles, or free flowing material. Now we get where that whole maid outfit fantasy thing comes from.
  • Peek-a-boo -This comes in any part of a top or dress etc. that is open to show a little bit of. Avoid peek-a-boo bras though.
  • Petticoat - An underskirt usually a little shorter than outer clothing and often made with a ruffled, pleated, or lace edge.
  • Pieced - A look created by sewing several pieces of material together to form the garment, much like a quilt.
  • Pinafore - Originally used to protect dresses from dirt, it is worn as a sleeveless dress or over a blouse.
  • Prism Heel - A triangular heel of varying with and height.
  • Pump - A  shoe where the upper portion is closed at the back and sides of the foot, with a low cut that reveals most of the top of the foot.  A pump can be “open toe”, revealing the toes, or closed toe.
  • Push-up Jeans - Spandex in the jeans that helps to lift and shape your rear. Flat girls, this is your chance To be great.

  • Quarter - This is the section of a shoe that covers the heel.
  • Raglan Sleeve sleeve that begins at the neck and has a long, slanting seam line from the neck to the armhole, giving the garment a relatively undefined shoulder.
  • Re-embroidered - To outline a design (as on lace) with embroidery stitching.
  • Rhinestoned - To attach a colorless imitation stone of high luster made of glass, paste, or gem quartz. Kind of like bedazzling, do people still do that? No judgement.
  • Round Toe - A shoe where the front of upper portion is closed and has a rounded appearance when viewed from the top.
  • Sarong Skirt - A long cloth which is wrapped around the entire body.
  • Scoop Neck/Round Neck - A low, U shaped or round neckline.
  • Seesucker -  A thin, puckered, cotton fabric. Very popular in summer because it allows for air circulation because it stands away from the body.
  • Shawl Collar - A one-piece collar which is turned down to form a continuous line around the back of the neck to the front. Very popular with the guys around winter time and for tuxes.
  • Sheath  - A dress that features a figure-hugging silhouette with a defined waist without the help of a belt or waistband.
  • Shelf Bra - A bra built into a garment. Best thing since sliced bread.
  • Shirt Dress - This dress kind of has that feel of wearing your guy's shirt. Some of them are: a collar, a button front or cuffed sleeves.  Usually made up in crisp fabrics like cotton, the shirt dress often has a looser fit with waist definition given by a belt.
  • Skort - Shorts that have a front covering to resemble a skirt. Confuse the enemy.
  • Slingback - A shoe where the upper portion is open at the back of the foot, with a thin strap running around the back of the heel, that holds the shoe on the foot.
  • Spaghetti Strap - Straps on a dress or shirt that are very thin pieces of fabric, resembling “spaghetti”. These are so in right now (2014) ultra glam.
  • Split Neck - A round neckline that looks like it has been cut in the center to form a small “V.”
  • Spool Heel - This heel is wide at both ends, but narrower in the middle; resembles an hourglass shape when viewed from the back.
  • Square Neck - An open-yoke neckline shaped in the form of a half square. No, for real.
  • Square Toe - A shoe where the front of the upper portion is closed and has a squared appearance when viewed from the top.
  • Stacked Heel - A wooden heel in which the stacked horizontal layers of wood are visible; popular for spring and summer styles.
  • Standard Sole - A sole of minimal thickness; extends from the front end of the shoe to the heel and is of even thickness throughout.
  • Stiletto Heel - A heel that is long, narrow, 2″ and above with a diameter of no more than 0.4″ (1cm) where it reaches the ground; generally round or square shaped. Here's a picture, in case you never got the memo.

  • Straight Legs - Pant legs that are cut an equal width from the waste to ankle.
  • Sweetheart Neck - A graceful, open yoke, shaped like the top half of a heart. Very Disney.
We sure hope you feel like you could write a book right now. Thank you for reading kids, 'til next time.