Over 34 of the country’s top designers will present collections in 15 shows over three days, with the final collections being revealed on Saturday. Big names like Marianne Fassler, David Tlale, Stefania Morland, and Leigh Schubert, as well as many newcomers have been included in the 2014 line-up.
Menswear will also receive a substantial showing in the form of collections from ten leading labels such as Fabiani, Augustine, Ruald Rheeder, Laduma and Viyella, as well as the four emerging menswear designers featured in the African Fashion International (AFI) Next Generation incubation programme.
The emergence of the “metrosexual” male has sparked a new era in menswear, with many men becoming increasingly enthusiastic about fashion and their personal brands, fuelling the growth of this market – and the entire fashion industry as a result.
“Each of these collections will present a fresh, innovative take on men’s clothing preferences and the masculine form,” says AFI spokesperson Nicholas Maweni.
“The exceptional talent of the 10 menswear designers showing at MBFWJ 2014 is proof that the quality of local fashion is on par with that which is being produced internationally.
“After all, clothes maketh the man…”
Other elite labels showcasing in Joburg include Abigail Betz, Morphe and Avant Apparel from Johannesburg; Shana, Selfi and Tart from Cape Town; and Pretoria’s Irmgard and Tsotetsi KL.
“Each year, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg offers a national opportunity for established and up-and-coming local designers to showcase their new autumn/winter collections. The unprecedented talent lined up this year proves South Africa’s fashion industry is growing from strength to strength,” says AFI executive chairperson, Precious Moloi-Motsepe.
As fashion is an extension of cultural expression, MBFWJ 2014’s theme, Creative Freedom: Under the Pillars of Fashion, Art and Design, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy.
In keeping with the theme, the event is intended as an equal-opportunity platform to foster creative independence amongst the new generation of talent in the fashion and design industry. As such, the Fastrack, Next Generation and FashionTalks programmes, which all feature in the 2014 MBFWJ line-up, aim to identify enrichment opportunities for young, up-and-coming designers in the fashion world.
“Through these initiatives, the South African fashion industry will be supported, aiding efforts to bolster the industry as a whole, thereby benefitting the entire economy,” said Moloi-Motsepe.
The 10 finalists of the AFI Fastrack initiative, now in its fourth year, will have the opportunity of showcasing their own designs on the same runways as renowned labels.
In a stringent selection process, judges looked at graduate ranges from participating design institutions around the country to identify the 10 finalists – Rich Mnisi, Ditiro Mashingo, Ellen Kondowe and Tuelo Ngunyuka from Gauteng; Fabian Ah-Sing, Jessica Ross, Robynn Deedat and Naazneen Kagee from the Western Cape; Benazeer Mulla from KwaZulu-Natal; and Ruth Mc Naughton from the Eastern Cape.
At the end of the showcase, three winners will be announced, with each receiving a cash prize from AFI and an internship in the studio of an established fashion designer, as well as an opportunity to launch a capsule collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa 2014.
The FashionTalks seminars, meanwhile, are themed Cutting from New Cloth: Innovation in Fashion and promote new talent on a global platform through educating the local design community on the importance of cultivating innovation and sustainability.