Throughout the AFI Fastrack 2023 programme, finalist Articles from MARS has demonstrated the famous aphorism by Pablo Picasso – “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
And designer, Kgotsofalo Given Monyamate, has been consistent in using his know-how to rebel against convention. With each challenge, he’s made conscientious and evocative design choices in garments that spoke to a greater cause.
At the Durban July, Monyamate’s award-winning ensemble presented a symbolic, anti-poverty manifesto. It won him the coveted Best Dressed Man award.
At Joburg Fashion Week, the designer highlights and introduces what he calls 'The Queer Self-Expressionist.'
“I wanted to explore the psychologies of queer self-expression in a local context,” the designer said in his concept document to introduce his inspiration for the collection.
He does so through a gender-fluid collection curated around his ideal customer, Chase, to whom queer self-expression is an ideology built on the pillars of attaining confidence, finding human connection and advocating for queer life. Each ensemble was named for one of the pillars.
Prioritising quality and functionality, Monyamate defines Articles from MARS as a user-centred label. Monymate looked to current fashion trends -mesh, corsetry and crochet- to the embroidery and patchworking that has allowed him to reimagine Articles from MARS’s signature use of the material.
Look 1: “Confidence” A white shirt with a dropped front yoke and 3d cargo pockets on the back. Draped around the collar is a blue denim tie with the word “connection” sewn along its length. Paired with a pair of mid-waist denim pants with stripped-in strip along each length, extending into a flap extension.
From bull denim to blue denim, the designer has put this material to good use in unconventional, but effortless and wearable silhouettes. His Joburg Fashion Week collection was no exception – attention was given to the smallest detail, with the impact visible in the result.
Look 2: “Elation” : A cropped kimono hoodie, and a reversible denim maxi-skirt with hand-painted decals along the inside hem. The word “Elation” is sewn into the back. Underneath the hoodie is an orange and white knit halter-top.
From its designs to its sustainability goals, Articles From MARS is a label that has its eye on fashion’s future. According to Monyamate, the label seeks to address all four pillars of sustainability, encompassing the human, social, economic and environmental questions of caring for the planet so that it can continue to sustain us.
Look 3: “Human Rights” A cropped denim jacket and wide-legged pants with a decorative grey piping. The sides of the pants are detachable by buttons.
He positions his design practice as a medium for his manifesto, with each collection zeroing in on a different corner of his advocacy.