Thursday, August 26, 2010

Show Your Respect and Passion for the Fashion Industry!

I will not mince my words! When I read a twitter update by fellow blogger Maque DeGourgeous about a probable Pretoria Fashion Week I surprisingly felt no anger as is usually the case when people insult the world of fashion in this disappointing manner. What I felt instead was shame for whoever the idiot convening this event is. I've done no research into it, as I am not in the slightest interested in yet another idiotic "fashion week" venture.
One thing is clear. The conveners of Pretoria Fashion Week have done little to no research into the viability of such an event. Had they done so, they will know that no fashion commentator, blogger or journalist is in support of ludicrous initiatives that lack substance, disguising as much needed platforms for local designers. Had these people, who obviously have lots of dough to throw around on useless projects, done any research they would understand that organising yet another "fashion week" is detrimental to the industry as it segments rather than builds it. What this petty initiative will do, like all other such ludicrous ideas, is to promise some talented aspiring designers some or other form of recognition and what it will deliver is much disappointment and sheer confusion about what it takes to be a designer worthy of a fashion week showcase.
Few designers in South Africa are worthy of this and thanks to the likes of Pretoria Fashion Week the standard will drop to a new low.
I appeal to fashion writers, bloggers and editors with an ounce of respect for what they do to boycott this sort of insult on the fashion industry. I also appeal to aspiring designers to respect their craft by refining it and by aiming to showcase at credible fashion week platforms. Anyone who entertains this stupidity is obviously a fashion slave who lacks substance and believes fashion is about little more than pieces of cloth sewn together to make anything that resembles a garment.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Issues about the September Issue

The ELLE SA September 2010 issue. Less than exciting.

I am quite surprised at the fact that RJ Cutler- the producer of the Vogue documentary “The September Issue”- has not yet been named one of fashion’s most influential people. Well, at least in the past year or so methinks he should be on that list. And not just on the list but quite high on it, too. You see, September, being the January of fashion, is when the new year is ushered in and magazines hit the jackpot as advertisers clamour for space. September issues fly off the shelves because they serve as a gauge for consumers of what is “in” or “out”. Collections are reviewed and fashion editors, it seems, put their best feet forward at this time of the year. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the culture that exists in fashion. If you absolutely have to, however, I’d say “this fall” is America’s favourite fashion season.

To get back to the point, RJ Cutler should be on the list of fashion’s most powerful because following the release of his film it seems he has resuscitated the excitement that comes with the month of September. A Financial Times article by Vanessa Friedman explains how this trend seems to be taking hold, at least in the northern hemisphere. Down here in South Africa I’m surprised that magazines are yet to realise the power of September. Methinks it should be all that more exciting because September is when we go into the sunny seasons yet the fashion spreads (well, at least ELLE’s because Marie Claire ain’t in stores yet, I have looked and looked) are not all that different from any other month. What I know for sure, though- excuse me if I sound like Oprah- is that fashion lovers place much value on The September Issue and it wouldn’t hurt for fashion editors to play along. It’s not even a guessing game; ad revenue will mos def increase over the years if only one month was a time to look forward to when you head for the book store to stock up on your monthly fashion reads.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Fashion the Business of Airheads?

Vogue Italia photoshoot, pic from

The refusal by some to acknowledge fashion as an art is a shame. Fashion is often found wanting when it comes to ethics but sometimes I think people tend to overexagerate and seek to portray fashion as something far removed from our daily lives.
I'm particularly refering to Vogue Italia's controversial oil spill shoot; a reference to the worst environmental disaster in US history. The fact that it is making people talk is, for me, an achievement on the part of those who executed the idea.
Creativity, by it's very nature, often challenges accepted norms and stretches the boundaries. If it didn't then it wouldn't be valid, now would it? Fine artists often find themselves running into trouble with politicians; Zapiro, for instance. There was also, more recently, Yuill Damaso whose painting of a dead Nelson Mandela put him at odds with the Mandela Foundation. Methinks he achieved what art is meant to do; again, challenging social norms.
If fine artists can do this sort of thing, why is fashion condemned when it speaks to social issues. Why, for the love of God, should fashion be seen as an ignorant section of society that should not be allowed to express itself through the depiction of world events, disastrous or otherwise?
The notion- which fashionistas are guilty of not caring to confront- that people in fashion are detached from the rest of the world is one that we must seek to challenge and eliminate. Fashion is an art and very much a part of humankind. Fashionistas also have brains and opinions. And if a fashion editor wants to express their consciousness through a fashion spread, so be it! Political journos and observers are not the only ones who have the right to comment on social ills and the like.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vogue Africa idea rejected by Publishers

Photographer Mario Epanya's fictional Vogue cover. Vogue Publishers conde Nast rejected the idea of an African Vogue.

In May this year I posted about fictional covers of an African Vogue edition created by photographer Mario Epanya. In July, reports in The Independent UK indicated that Vogue publishers Conde Nast rejected the idea of an African edition of Vogue. This is regardless of the success of their other publication GQ, Glamour and House and Garden already being published in South Africa. So, why not Vogue?
I don't have the answers to this but I do think the calls made by some to boycott their publication on the African continent reflect what I find to be an inferiority complex on the part of African fashionistas.
So the f#&* what if Vogue Africa doesn't exist or never comes into existance, for that matter?! Do we really need it? Yeah, yah, yeah, t'would be great to have it. Maybe it could boost Africa's standing on the world fashion stage but is it necessary for us to act like a bunch of spoilt brats by boycotting Conde Nast altogether? It's just not worth it. We need to appreciate ourselves and not look, once again, to superpower conglomerates to validate our fashion existance. How about our own publishing houses invest in a proper fashion magazine rather?
With all due respect- and I do respect them- but for me Arise Magazine don't cut it as a fashion mag. It's a lifestyle magazine with an extensive fashion coverage, but that's about it!
If a Vogue Africa existed, I repeat, I wouldn't mind being part of the editorial team. But now that I know that it is not going to materialise- at least not any time soon- I'm like "get over it!"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jozi and Kapa Enter Fashion Capital List. What now?

David Tlale

Global Language Monitor, a U.S. based non-profit group that tracks the frequency of words and phrases in the media, on the Internet and throughout the blogosphere has renamed New York as the fashion capital of the world, ending Milan's 5 year reign. What, for me, is most notable is that Johannesburg and Cape Town are new entries on the list of fashion capitals at no.23 and 25.
Personally, I think bloggers must be credited for this feat as we- yes, we- cover fashion weeks in this country far more extensively than mainstream media. Beyond that, however, this is something we ought to take seriously. The local press, bloggers and fashion observers of all kinds need to sharpen their pencils and apply the needed pressure on designers and all stakeholders to hike their game up a notch. If we are to go any higher on the list and hopefully- like the Asian countries and Australia, who rank quite high- find one of our cities in the top 10 (actually, lets even push that to top5, ain't nothing wrong with dreaming and working towards making it a reality) ass-kissing fashion observers need to be a thing of the past. A spade must be called a spade and the tolerance of amateurish fashion on our catwalks must be dealt with decisively. How else will designers realise that they need to sweat blood if needs be to get even an ounce of recognition, not only at home, but globally?
It doesn't end here. The hard work must now begin!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Green Closets are the Future!

Recycled fashion, pic from
I recently blogged about ethical fashion and why it is probably not catching on, where I came to the conclusion that people are just too lazy to think about what they wear beyond looking and feeling good. What we tend to forget is that we also have a planet to take care of; she also needs to “look and feel good” in order for her to take care of us, as it were.
Last night I came across an article about how designers in the US are toying with the idea of “zero-waste” fashion, which basically involves a designer making patterns that do not allow for left over scraps of fabric. This in turn eliminates a large number of garbage that ends up in landfills the world over.
Fashion, like every other industry in the world, needs to play along with the green game. It’s not just the Eskoms and Sasols of this world that have a contribution to make. We all do!
I say thumbs up to zero-waste fashion. If you know of any South African designers who uses this approach, please do let me know; I’d like to pledge my support.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Brand New Store for Men with a taste for "Premium Luxury"

Menswear store 24 Fevrier Homme opened its doors at The Sandton Eye, a location best suited for what one guesses is the target clientelle- well heeled men with a taste for the finer things in life.
The store stocks various well known fashion brands from Roberto Cavalli to Gianfranco Ferre and Missoni to Versace, amongst others. Being introduced by the store to the South African market are three other fashion brands of "highest premium and luxury"- as the press release states- namely Carlo Pignatelli, Brioni and Etro Milano.
With its close proximity to Jozi's fashion capital Sandton City and the Gautrain station 24 Fevrier Homme is well positioned for catering to Jozi's business elite and business travellers alike.
DJ Sbu hosted the store opening function as master of ceremonies and guests were treated to wine and champers, along with various delicacies; most notably oysters, which I found symbolic of the target market's taste indeed.

Jozi fashionista and style architect Felipe Mazibuko was roped in to do the merchandising and models posing like mannequinns showed off some of the merchandise.
A big thank you, firstly to Mr. Mazibuko for alerting this blogger about the event and to The Mason Company for the media package.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Dressmakers' Convention disguised as Fashion Week

The utter disgust I felt when I walked into the room is undescribable; thank God for my acting skills! Last Saturday a former LISOF student I know invited me and a couple of friends to help with the "casting" of models for Mpumalanga Fashion Week. As we walked in we found him on his knees measuring things and instructing so-called models to do this and that. In another room in his Rosebank flat a so-called casting was in progress with some guy- who is apparently heading the production of shows at MFW- demanding these pseudo-models to strut for him in various ridiculous garments they were passing off as fashion design. I recall one particular "designer" walking in with her green harem pants clad model. "Production dude", as I will refer to him from here onwards, tore the "designer" apart. "I've so seen this before!" he said.
One could swear he was a "Project Runway" judge, the way he carried on.
"I've seen this before," he insisted and proceeded to demand that this poor dressmaker (read: the designer) "loosen the fit", "add this...", "add that...".
"Just do something, because I will not allow this on my runway."
The poor dressmaker was dumbfounded; she clearly thought her design innovative. "What am I supposed to do with it?" she asked.
Unable to contain myself I went ahead and asked what her inspiration for the collection- which I must mention was indistinguishable from five or six others we had witnessed from her fellow dressmakers- was. She uttered something around "Asian, Chinese..." and a whole lot of other things. Ummm... Asian? Maybe. But Chinese? *crickets*
The entire jamboree (for lack of a better term) felt like I was back in my township roots in the '90s, sitting at someone's garage as pretty little kasi girls line up to be dressed for a "Miss Boom Shaka" beauty contest (trust me; we used to have such things back then).
The point is; it is all good and well to create initiatives whereby aspirant designers can be led in the right direction and assisted in refining their craft, but passing what should be called a workshop or something of the sort as fashion week is an insult to our fashion industry in its entirety.
If there are indeed plans to create a national fashion council this needs to be fast-tracked so that such things can become a reality for the benefit of all who work and aspire to be part of the industry. Dressmakers' Conventions such as the one I refer to above can then be established- properly- to achieve a more cohesive and sustainable growth path for fashion in South Africa. At the moment it seems the words "fashion week" are being taken for granted and used very loosely. Such needs to come to an end!

Put My Clothes in a Shredder

pics: Getty Images,

I like this "shredded look" and think I'ma buy a coupla t-shirts to play around with. There's something very different about it; fashion forward and kinda mystical, yet so very simple. I really like.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why Ethical Fashion is not attractive for Most

Being an ethical fashionista is hard work. It requires creativity and a lot of thinking- and altering of old garments to give them a contemporary spin- goes into it. Just because denim jackets are back in fashion don't mean one can simply reach into an older family member's heirloom to find a '93 version of the jacket; the cuts almost certainly have no 2010-street-cred value. You'll simply look like you came right out a Salt-N-Peppa music video!
The point I'm trying to make here is that recycling clothes, an ethical practice (taking into consideration the global warming predicament) by any means, like the recycling of anything requires a little re-engineering. This, along with the fact that some of us would rather don the latest Gucci threads than be caught in an unbranded knitted jersey with Bambi prints all over it, is a reason why ethical fashion seems unattractive to most people. When one goes to fashion week and realises how much people spend on newly designed (mostly awful, matric dance-esque) garments to wear on that one occassion it becomes apparent that old habits are hard for most to ditch. We are so used to spending gazillions on looking good we fail to see how inexpensive being fashionable and simultaneously creative actually is.
Some fashionistas ought to take shopping lessons from less-than-privileged folk who trail downtown Jozi in search for exclusive finds under piles and piles of H&M second hand stuff on sales at the inner city's overcrowded, hawker-sprawling sidewalks.
Actually, I know a few well known Jozi fashionistas who do it and you could never tell until they tell you they do. So, get off that high horse and join the movement for ethical fashion. Going green is not just for tree huggers; fashionistas can do it too.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Good Looking Boys Revive My Passion for Menswear

Take two good looking, young, black boys. Add a camera in the equation, style-to-envy and viola!... you have
It is not often that one is introduced to a blog that "really matters", as London Times has called Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs's blog. These two New Yorkers remind me of the passion I have for menswear; one that is often let down by the monotonous retail store rails in the men's department.
Take a look at this blog; I promise you will not regret it. The boys are easy on the eye, too! Thank you very much to Celiwe Ngobese for introducing me to these guys. Love it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Naomi's Diamond, Anna's Fur and Fashion's "Murky" Ethics

Naomi Campbell. Due to testify on "blood diamond" against Charles Taylor at The Hague

Naomi Campbell has refused to talk to prosecutors, citing fears for her family's safety, which prompted prosecutors to get a court subpoena for her testimony, says reports from French wire service AFP. Campbell is due to take the witness stand this Thursday in The Hague’s case against former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Prosecutors and other witnesses say Campbell had accepted a “blood diamond” from Charles Taylor, who stands accused of war crimes amongst other charges. The supermodel denies accepting this gift and I am hardly interested in whether or not Charles Taylor had “blood diamonds”, I’m more interested in the ethical aspect of Naomi’s presumed acceptance of the diamond.

Does fashion sometimes lose sight of ethics in its search for beauty? Animal Rights and Human Rights Activists would probably agree with this and Naomi- if she is in possession of the blood diamond- as well as Vogue editor Anna Wintour (with her fur) would be the number one perpetrators!

Vogue Editor Anna Wintour made fur a fashion must-have