Monday, May 31, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Tears are not just in the Threads

pic taken from

I’ve just read an article in where the sad reality of hungry fashion designers is laid bare. After 10 years of establishment, the article says, Alexander McQueen’s label was not making the profits. Some might find this hard to believe, but this article gives cold hard facts of the glamorous yet seriously difficult business of fashion.

Some designers are inflated to Kingpin status and probably deservedly so taking into context the talent it takes to create fashion that can be considered art; something for which McQueen was credited a master at doing. The problem, however, is that building a brand that sells is a mammoth task. And maybe the frivolities that have previously been seen as necessary- the grand parties at which celebrities are brought in to schmooze with industry heavyweights all at the designer’s expense- are no longer sustainable. Maybe they never were.
When South Africa Fashion Week decided to only admit journos, buyers and faithful clients of the designers to the shows it was widely recognized as a step in the right direction. And maybe many more interventions need to be looked into by designers as they sweat blood and tears to make their businesses work.
But then again, a lot of South Africa’s designers don’t have a large staff and don’t often do the whole extravagant thing I just called unnecessary. Maybe on these shores the key to making businesses profitable would be to study new brand strategies that have not yet been implemented by a lot of local houses. In designing these strategies, however, the size of our market needs to be taken into account and the UK with its limited market size is a good place to learn from. America is not.
Designer dreams don’t pay the bills is the title of the article and I think it is required reading for anyone who takes this industry seriously.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


pics: Dazed Digital

Say hello to the new English Dandy!

Well, this is according to designers Hwan Sung Park and Chung Chung Lee, whose label called A.Hallucination aims to showcase “the modern English dandy”. The two designers have worked for renowned brands such as Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford and are inspired by the city of London.
Judging by the pics I see on Dazed Digital, I think this is a label I wouldn’t mind trying out. If only I can get hold of it in South Africa. They are not even being stocked anywhere in London yet as they are a start-up.
What I’d like to see, though, is a designer who will redefine the African dandy. I think it’s possible. Sylvester Falata, we are watching you! And those LISOF graduates had better jack up their game and shake this industry to the core. So far, I am failing to identify something in most department store mens' sections that can keep my eye away from wondering off to the ladies' section. Menswear is just not as exciting at this point in time. At least that is my opinion. Don't know how YOU feel.
South African fashion needs some menswear designers who are not afraid of transcending boundaries. For now, I’ll just feast my eyes on these pics.

Take Gaga with a pinch of salt, will you?


Outrageous! A teenager prancing about in public with her underwear, preferring it as “outerwear”…

Well, maybe not in the age of Gaga. Timesonline UK assesses Gaga’s effect on fashion as she embarks on her UK tour. Teenagers and fashion aficionados worldwide have taken to the shock wardrobe effect of Gaga’s stage persona and the good thing about it, I believe, is that it inspires a sense of individuality.
Those who had previously been scared to express themselves in ways that others would have frowned upon now feel it is not so horrid to be labeled “weird”. The trouble, however, is whether or not people begin to interpret “individual” as “outrageous”.
I see no sense of individuality in prancing around looking like a Lady Gaga wannabe. Individual style is about remaining true to one’s tastes, going to the extremes to shock the living daylights out of everyone around you, to me, sounds like a lack of style but more like a penchant for attention.
I think a line needs to be drawn between admiring people for their style and people who steal the limelight purely because they are doing what seems out of the ordinary. Weird, after all, is not always wonderful.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Men's Magazines need to evolve too!

Men’s Fashion is not an issue that a lot of South African fashion press likes covering. Even our so-called men’s fashion publications (let’s see… it’s GQ and…????) tend to believe that men are not interested in reading much about fashion. A fashion spread and a couple of tips will do, they seem to think. The trends that shape men’s fashion is something men cannot give a toss about!

ALL Men want to read about mountain biking and extreme sports this and that…


I don’t know, but I- for one- enjoy reading about the trends and the designers behind men’s fashion but my thirst for that knowledge is only quenched by the coverage of these issues by women’s fashion titles who, unlike their male counterparts, don’t just paper over the stuff. But then again, I guess GQ would risk being called a “gay” publication if they did.
The indifference about men’s fashion by our media contributes to the weak exposure that designers get. Spreads in GQ, FHM and Men’s Health hardly ever feature items from designers like Ephraim Molingoana or Craig Port. And homegrown titles have failed to really appeal to this market simply because- I believe- they know not what they are doing.
Somebody out there, with the intention of attracting a substantial segment of the men’s magazine consuming market, needs to do proper research into what men are looking for; I don’t think talking about the size of their manhood all the time cracks it, neither does assuming that all men want to read about sports, politics and business. Men, too, like to relax and read about other stuff that is not so serious, please!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fashion Getting Fresh with Soccer Fevah!

Pic by: Helene Nieuwenhius
(She sits next to me, she insisted on a "byline")

Even fashionistas are getting excited and as the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup approaches (what is it, like 20 days away now?), everyone is embracing the spirit of the beautiful game and donning their Football Friday gear.

I, at work, as well as my other colleagues have actually been given tee’s and vuvuzelas (branded) to wear and carry on Fridays. I actually love the idea.
Jacquie Myburgh-Chemaly wrote in her Times column, I think the other week (nne?), that she is finding it hard getting into the swing of 2010 fever; the colours- green and gold- are not something she sees herself in and I’m sure this is a conundrum facing many many fashionistas who would otherwise love to show their support for this soccer showpiece, a first for the African continent.
Well, SA Fashion Week might just be on the money as they present designs by popular local designers that might just be the key to fashioning a stylish soccer supporter identity.
Can’t wait to see. It all goes down in less than thirty minutes from now at Rosebank. Hope I’ll make it on time (crossing fingers).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fancy some Vogue Africa?

If Vogue Africa existed the above would be one of the covers. At least if Cameroonian make-up artist Mario Epanya were publisher. This is his fictional Vogue Africa cover, one of many that he makes. Mario, who has been buying Vogue for over three decades says he feels it doesn’t represent African creativity? Should it? Should Vogue even exist in Africa.

Well, some, like a Nigerian editor by the name of Uduak believe not.
“Africa has always been and will remain fashionable. African fashion and lifestyle focused magazines have emerged, including Arise and Canoe, offering both Western and African fashion consumers more options. Nevertheless, many Africans and African designers still feel the need for Western validation via VOGUE Africa and similar Western fashion brands, rather than wholeheartedly supporting their own with their pocket book and patronage. African customers will buy VOGUE Africa, despite an African renaissance, before they do their own. It is the reality and psyche of Africans and sadly is what it is. Ultimately, and this is no slippery slope, African publishing businesses in the continent will be forced out of business.” Uduak says.
Well, whatever... but if Vogue hit these shores, I want to be on that editorial team.
Hope those at Conde Nast SA are paying attention!

Read the full story and see more of Mario Epanya’s fictional Vogue Africa covers here

Monday, May 17, 2010

Multi-dimensional Marketing Beats Red Carpet Glamour

Fashion’s merger with Cinema is probably most epitomized by veteran designer Tom Ford’s direction of “A Single Man”, and it seems fashion’s love affair with cinema and more specifically film is becoming a trend to watch.

Karl Lagerfeld is now also producing a series of films viewable on
A New York Times article which documents the trend notes the red carpet’s demise as a tool of choice for marketing a fashion label. It also notes a trend where consumers seek a much more personal interaction with the brands they adore and the web provides the tools with which entrepreneurs can open this door of opportunity for growth.
Livestreams of catwalk shows, blogs and vlogs. Designers ought to realize that there is now more to running a fashion business than assuming that good product offerings and relying on media driven publicity is a thing of the past. But such does require an open mind and a proper viral marketing strategy. It is no coincidence that we have a president that most can identify with as a result of his humility. That right there illustrates the mood… Openness is vital in today’s world.


When Dazed and Confused, the UK based arts, culture and fashion magazine came to these shores a couple of weeks ago fellow blogger Milisuthando Bongela and myself had the pleasure to meet and work with the editor of the magazine Rod Stanley.
On that three day weekend we joined Rod on a trip to Market Street, dowtown Jozi where pics for the Smarteez story to be published in the June issue of the mag were taken. The issue is now out in the UK. The rest of us will have to wait, but I'm sure Exclusive Books will have it in the next few weeks.
Along with the Smarteez story, we did a couple of others, including Thandiswa Mazwai, OK Malume and design duo Black Coffee. Rod and his team also went to Cape Town and met web superstars Die Antwoord.

Above are a couple of Smarteez, behind the scene, pics. Check out Dazed Digital for more SA stuff and don't forget to pick up a copy of the mag soon!