AFI Privé Autumn/Winter 2024: A Story of Modernity Told in Denim

AFI Privé Autumn/Winter 2024: A Story of Modernity Told in Denim

Ranji Mangcu 

Under the leadership of Keneuoe Mhletswa and Thulani Mlambo, AFI Privé continues to balance a luxury philosophy with a utilitarian aesthetic.  

Since its inception in 2014, AFI Privé has captivated audiences at Africa Fashion International (AFI) Fashion Weeks in Johannesburg and Cape Town with its distinct aesthetic.

At the heart of the brand’s success is the talent and ingenuity of lead designers Keneuoe Mhletswa (An AFI Fastrack alumnus) and Thulani Mlambo; tailor Thapelo Mokobane; and in-house CMT’s Tshepiso Ramatoka and Hopolang Manko. 

AFI PRIVÉ Denim Lamb Strait Dress

AFI Privé's signature blend of beauty and functionality caters to the discerning tastes of the House of Nala customer, the brand's exclusive retailer. Each collection tells a story of balancing tradition and modern style, where rules and autonomy find harmony for the young and sophisticated cosmopolitan in Johannesburg.  

This philosophy shows up in each collection. Utilitarian elements take centre stage – cargo pants embellished with oversized, architectural details and roomy pockets. Sterling silver buckles gleam, as classic workwear pieces like blazers and shirts are reimagined in soft and sumptuous satins, silks, and linens.
 

AFI PRIVÉ Exaggerated Collar Denim Coat

When asked about the collection, Mhletswa – AFI Privé’s Womenswear lead – lets me know:  

 “Everything that I design represents elegance. That’s me… I can dress up my cargo pants and I can dress them down. My pieces are very versatile.” 

This speaks to the AFI Privé team’s progressive vision of “elegance”; a desire to build upon tradition by breaking it. The brand is a representation of AFI’s contribution to the fashion market, and unique perspective of luxury fashion.   

 

The latest AFI Privé collection for Autumn/Winter 2024, was launched at the Motsepe Foundation’s annual Gender Equality, Wellness and Leadership (GEWAL) Summit, held every year on International Women’s Day.  

Paying homage to the indomitable spirit of Johannesburg’s modern woman, the collection marries luxurious elements with the rugged, everyday charm of denim – a material that has its roots in durable, versatile workwear, and is now a timeless, genre-defying wardrobe staple.  

AFI PRIVÉ Military Cargo Pants

This sturdiness and durability are what Mhletswa asserts drew the design team to this material – its ability to be worn by generation after generation, inherited between mother and daughter.  

The austere navy blue of denim connected and carried the team’s balance of traditional and exploratory silhouettes. Perhaps embodying the thesis of the collection best, is a precisely tailored A-line dress with a long, boned torso and an elevated collar.

AFI PRIVÉ  Denim Boobtube Corset Dress

A pair of voluminous leg-o’-mutton sleeves references 19th century style, giving the dress a charming quality. 

This collection follows the success of AFI Privé’s Joburg Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2023 collection, in which the menswear – led by Mlambo – predominantly featured denim and linen.  

Furthermore, it sets the tone for the year, marking the team’s intention to continue imagining their sleek and structured signatures through further textile exploration, introducing a fascinating snakeskin denim.  

AFI PRIVÉ Denim Contrast Sweater and AFI PRIVÉ Denim Collar Baseball Bomber Jacket

According to Mokobane, the lead tailor, it is “not even 1%” of what the team wants to do and explore. In addition to ensuring that garments are impeccably tailored, Mokobane plays a key role on the design team.  

Over the course of two years at the helm of AFI Privé, Mhletswa and Mlambo have made their mark with an enduring, effortlessly cool vision of African luxury.

From atelier dynamics down to storytelling, connecting this team is a unique and refreshing set of values that revolve around dynamism, resilience, progress and what Mokobane refers to as “sankofa” – retrieving from history in order to jump forward.  

Situated upstairs at AFI headquarters in Sandton, Johannesburg, their atelier is a respite from the corporate humdrum and “Numbers-Guys” downstairs. Between them is a working synergy based on mutual respect and an agreement to produce the best in accessible luxury.

One can assume that the deep house and Amapiano playlist – sometimes broken up by the soothing sounds of African Gospel – helps temper the team amid a high-pressure environment. 

 

For the House of Nala customer, AFI Privé epitomises an African luxury that is unwavering in its commitment to quality, innovation, and contributing a new and interesting dimension to the many stories of African luxury that are at the root of the AFI brand. 

AFI Privé Autumn/Winter 2024 Collection is officially available for Pre-Order at House of Nala.  

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