Let's be honest. Men's fashion can sometimes be dull, predictable, and uninspiring. Offering us a suit as a solution? Groundbreaking! And yet, as we are well aware, many men, especially in South Africa, are conservative, and are really OK with the usual suit and tie. Most times it’s a pair of jeans, a nice shirt, and a jacket.
However, it appears that is changing. No longer playing second fiddle to the artistic expression of womenswear designers, menswear is starting to come into its own and it’s time the boys get into the fun.
I was looking forward to Joburg Fashion Week and what the menswear designers were going to present on the runway. With leading African men like Ebuka, Denola Grey, Zakes Bantwini and Trevor Stuurman frequently showing how men can have fun with fashion, I was hoping that would be reflected on the runway at Joburg Fashion Week.
I wanted to see menswear being taken to where it hasn’t been before, all while still making sure that it would make commercial sense for the designers. I wanted an interesting point of view, an exploration of designs and the limitations that menswear sometimes brings, especially for the conservative dressers we have in the continent, especially in Southern Africa.
It was with trepidation that I approached the shows- would they deliver what was needed, interesting or safe, boring, but commercially safe? I think we got a bit of both. Most importantly, I wasn’t disappointed.
From the elegant street-style of Urban Zulu, the debonair men of Gvllvnt, Masango’s glamorous men and AFI Prive’s businessman on a holiday aesthetic, we were spoilt for choice.
Exciting to see was how Siphosihle Masango of MASANGO explored glamorous men with his took his menswear collection. From suits literally dripping in pearls, a be-pearled vest worn with matching jeans and a durag, a red lace shirt with ruby-red gem brooches instead of buttons and a suit in the signature MASANGO print for the season. The MASANGO man is clearly one who is not only comfortable with himself but wants to make a statement every time they leave their home.
Urban Zulu showcased the brand’s signature print, but with some edge. Papy Kaluw explored different textiles and textures, silhouettes, and accessories. From the suit in the classic Urban Zulu print, accessorised with an overnight bag, to a new iteration of the print in pastel colours, the print work was the focus. I particularly loved the loosely tailored knee-length coat worn with trousers, a layered with a sweater; the shorts worn with a matching shirt and cropped double-breasted blazer worn by the model, Amir, who opened the show. You always think you know what to expect at Urban Zulu, but Papy always managed to surprise you.
While Gvllvnt’s Tshepo Rakale risked his collection being overshadowed by the celebrities he had on his runway, there was still enough focus on the clothes for the brand’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection. Suiting is Gvllvnt’s forte, but he took it a notch higher with the detailing. I am particularly obsessed with the fuchsia blazer with the criss-cross back vent, simply worn with black trousers and no shirt. It allowed the attention to be on the detail.
The relaxed menswear presented by AFI Prive’s designer, Thulani Mlambo, was peak resort wear. After a long year of meetings, dark clothing and fitted silhouettes, it’s time to free yourself, unclench your jaw and go on holiday. But that doesn’t mean you must slack on the style front. No, sir. You will be wearing light shades of blue, linen, cotton, and chambray!
I was particularly taken by the chambray jackets that while presented casually, scream to be worn on an evening out during the summer. The linen suit, was a welcome surprise, as was the check waistcoat and matching pants. AFI Prive's resort wear presented a refreshing escape, embracing light fabrics and relaxed yet stylish ensembles. I can’t wait what else is coming from the AFI Prive menswear brand.
These designers showcased a new era for men's fashion, proving that creativity knows no bounds. Men can now embrace self-expression and fashion-forward choices, no longer constrained by traditional expectations. With this shift, we can expect to see greater innovation, boldness, and exploration in future menswear collections.
So, gentlemen, it's time to step out of the ordinary and into a vibrant world of fashion possibilities. Embrace the uniqueness, experiment with styles, and remember, in the realm of menswear, there are no limits. Get ready to make a statement and redefine what it means to be well-dressed