Loice Dube: The AFI Fastrack 2023 Finalist Who Blends Streetwear and High-Fashion with Bold Prints
AFI Fastrack 2023 Finalist, Loice Dube’s Brand, Lo-Ice, Experiments with the Wearability of Clothing Today
By Ranji Mangcu
Producing a highly sophisticated blend of streetwear and high-fashion, Johannesburg-based designer and AFI Fastrack 2023 finalist, Loice Dube makes it her brand, Lo-Ice’s, mission to experiment with the wearability of clothing today, while enhancing everyday experience through bold prints.
Established in 2015, the label’s primary export is currently womenswear. Dube’s is a very contemporary aesthetic that has evolved over the years, now embracing streetwear. This was demonstrated in her Cape Town Fashion Week ensemble, where the negative space of a cutaway top gives way to the sheer volume and “coolness” of baggy cargo bottoms.
What has remained consistent is Dube’s incorporation of lined prints.
Lo-Ice’s look for the AFI Fastrack Durban July Challenge, demonstrated Dube’s keen understanding of the assignment. The ensemble referenced the dual meanings of “Mercury” as both the fastest orbiting planet, and as the fast-moving, elusive element also known as “quicksilver”.
Titled The Jockey and her Horse, Mercury, Dube set striking features against the simplistic background of simple, icy-blue top and tights. A boned under-bust corset cinched at the waist, bursts into an imposing, structured peplum that Dube extends into a train.
The star of the show, however, was the headgear that won Dube 2nd Prize in the “Exceptional Raceday Hat/Fascinator” category of the Raceday Fashion Awards.
Dube repurposed the fabric used in a skirt shown at Cape Town Fashion Week to reference the structure of a vintage race-cap. Where the traditional race-cap would be tied at the chin, Dube elevated it into an extravagant hood with a short visor and a rounded hem resting on the chest.
AFI: Congratulations on making it this far as an AFI Fastrack Finalist! It has now been a few weeks since the Durban July- how are you feeling about the challenge and your piece?
LD: Thank you so much. I feel great about the challenge, and I feel great about my look. I had a unique perspective on theme, and I feel that I executed my look very well.
AFI: Some of the critiques for the AFI Fastrack Durban July challenge were quite vigorous. Would you say you’ve grown in how you receive critique, between the beginning of the programme and now?
LD: I think that the AFI Fastrack programme has taught me how to express myself confidently, enabling me to tell my story and take constructive criticism. I view the criticism as a stepping-stone that helps me grow as a designer.
AFI: How do you believe your piece either follows, improves upon or intentionally deviates from the traditions of the Durban July?
LD: I think that my look deviates from the traditions of the Durban July. It’s a sporty look, meant for people who can appreciate the functionality of jockeys’ race attire. However, its long train makes it appropriate for the formality of the event.
AFI: How did you find the experience of balancing your brand ethos with the theme?
LD: At first, I thought it would be difficult to marry the two. But I discovered as I worked, that I could stay true to my brand by making a look that is unusual yet functional… A garment that can be worn in two different spaces. I also found that I could use my custom prints to make the garment visually striking.
AFI: What have you been up to since being announced as an AFI Fastrack 2023 finalist at Cape Town Fashion Week?
LD: I have been busy with some work for my clients. I have also been busy with a new collection that I will hopefully be launching [at the] beginning of the new season. I’m excited about that. I have also been busy with the AFI Fastrack program. We have travelled to Botswana for the Forbes 30/30 summit, as well as the Motsepe Foundation Youth Expo and now the AFI Fashion Experience at the Durban July. Those experiences were very insightful and eye opening.
AFI: What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned through the AFI Fastrack programme thus far?
LD: It has taught me the importance of ensuring that my garments are commercially viable. The most valuable thing that I have learned so far is that everyone has a market. I must remember who I am designing for and cater to that client. I think that through the program, one of the biggest lessons I will learn is how to build a successful business within the fashion industry.
AFI: Many South African creatives have lamented the lack of infrastructure in place to effectively support South African creative industries. What is the importance of programmes such as this one in the uncertain, often emotionally taxing creative landscape of South Africa?
LD: When I got the call to tell me that I had made it as one of the AFI Fastrack 2023 finalists, I was going through a very dark period as a creative. The AFI Fastrack program has reignited my passion for the fashion industry and for the creative world. A program like this is important because it helps catapult designers to the next level of their careers. In a world where there are not a lot of support structures for creatives, the AFI Fastrack program is an asset to them.
Click here to follow Loice Dube's journey as a AFI Fastrack 2023 finalist.