AFI Fastrack Prize finalist, Kgotsofalo Given Monyamate during Cape Town Fashion Week

Articles From MARS Designer Talks AFI Fastrack Prize Journey

Buhle Mbonambi

Kgotsofalo Given Monyamate, designer of the rising South African fashion brand Articles From Mars, is one of the AFI Fastrack Prize 2023/24 finalists.

Ahead of the announcement of the winner on 21 June 2024, he opened up about his experience in the prestigious AFI Fastrack Prize.

He shares how the AFI Fastrack Prize empowered him to address his biggest challenges, embrace sustainable practices, and find inspiration in South African cultural movements like Izikhothane, which inspired his final collection.

Before entering the AFI Fastrack Prize, what were your biggest challenges as a designer? How has Fastrack helped you address them?

One of my biggest challenges was professional presentation. Fastrack fostered opportunities to network with industry professionals and allow me to present to them. I think I now have a better idea of what is expected of me as a designer and someone who wants to secure opportunities in the fashion industry.

Throughout the competition, you've received mentorship and feedback. Can you share a specific instance where this guidance pushed your creative boundaries and resulted in a design breakthrough?

For our Durban July Challenge, the mentors and judges felt my initial concept lacked focus and my mood board was poorly constructed. I considered their feedback and made necessary changes to both the concept and mood board. Fast forward to Durban July: guess whose ensemble won the 2023 Durban July Best Raceday Male? I’ll give you a hint: It starts with “Articles” and ends with “MARS”... (Laughs) 


African fashion is known for its rich heritage and cultural influences. How have you incorporated this aspect into your final collection for the AFI Fastrack Prize, and how does it reflect your unique design identity

The collection is inspired by the Izikhothane (Ubukhothane or Skhothane) culture that reached peak popularity around 2011/12 in South Africa. It is a culture that was or is still detested by some, yet highly followed by some. Academic literature has been written about this culture – to symbolise its significance. More than anything, the love of fashion fuelled this culture. 

Kgotsofalo with his design for the Durban July

The AFI Fastrack Prize has a reputation for launching the careers of future stars. Beyond winning, how do you envision this program shaping your path as a designer in the African fashion landscape?

I’ll always be grateful for the number and variety of presentations we’ve had during Fastrack. I do think the feedback received after presentations and the assistance in preparation for some will come in handy for future career prospects.

I’ve had an opportunity to meet and be acquainted with renowned role players in the local fashion landscape and so I am glad that I can reach out to them for things such as advice and or business transactions where I will further prove myself worthy an investment in a designer or collaborator.


Collaboration is often key to success. Can you describe a collaboration you fostered or an aspect of the program that encouraged teamwork?

During AFI’s Joburg Fashion Week we were challenged to work in pairs of my fellow Fastrack finalists to design exhibition garments for the Comfort South Africa brand. My partner (Thandazani Nofingxana of Abantu) and I drew from each of our aesthetics and values to create a brief aligning outfit.

I think for anyone that is familiar with the complexities associated with Articles from MARS and the brand of my partner, it will be easy to see how that look could have come out of us.  Yet it satisfied the brief – so we think.

How did this impact your approach to design?

It allowed my ideation process to be infiltrated by another creative mind; my ideas were complemented by those of my partner and mine complement theirs. This challenge also fostered the attitude that as much as egos can yield exceptional designs, so can the respect and willingness to gracefully receive when a creative solution to a problem comes from someone else.


Sustainability and ethical practices are becoming increasingly important in fashion. How have you considered these aspects in your final collection, and how do you envision them influencing your future design philosophy?

The ‘Is’khothane Somhlaba’ collection speaks about an issue to which South Africans and nature enthusiasts relate to. Therefore, these people are likely to consume the collection, unlike if it spoke to an issue far irrelevant to the local market, which is what the collection must first conquer.

This collection is also made from a range of durable material, some of which are seemingly on an endless trend, for example, denim and suiting. As for ethics, I developed the print myself, but the printing equipment which was outsourced was compensated for and no party was cheated. 

Articles From Mars- Joburg Fashion Week Collection

What message do you want to convey to the industry with your final collection, and what can the audience expect from you as a designer?

The message in my collection feeds into the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the 15th Goal (Life on Land), which among other things relates to the halting of the loss of biodiversity. I used this collection as means to educate the world on some precious plants in South Africa.

As much as this collection is means to educate, it is a serious social and environmental stance as these particular plants to be displayed happen to be endangered!

After this competition, the audience should stay tuned to witness the continuous elevation of a tested and tried yet empowered artist and an entrepreneur with a childhood dream to make an incredible mark in both local and international fashion spaces.


The winner of the AFI Fastrack Prize 2023/24 will be announced on Friday, 21 June 2024 in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

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