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11 Feb 2015 09:19
Rising star Lukhanyo Mdingi taking a bow at South Africa Menswear Week. (Simon Deiner, SDR Photo)
Graduation day is still a few weeks away but unlike most of his peers, Lukhanyo Mdingi won’t be sending out his CV to retail
chains, nor will he be interning for a big designer in an attempt to forge a
career in the fashion industry. At least this shouldn’t be the case if the
reception to his collection at last week’s inaugural Menswear Week is anything to go by.
Mdingi sent models sashaying down the
makeshift runway in the parking lot of the V&A Waterfront in crisp whites
and many shades of grey.
“It is based
on the Macramé technique,” the 22-year-old told the Mail & Guardian, referring to the form of textile-making he
explored in his collection. “Staying true to my minimal aesthetic, I wanted to
introduce fabric types that embodied qualities and similarities to the
It’s not the first time Mdingi has managed to
impress the fashion world with his minimalist aesthetic. He has churned out
three noteworthy collections, including the more avant-garde Iridescence collection that he made as part
of his postgraduate thesis titled “Avant Garde Menswear: A Challenge to South
The collection garnered attention both locally and globally, with well-known blogs The Fader and Fucking Young both
publishing his look-book at the end of last year.
The East London-born designer first caught
the attention of the industry when he entered the ELLE Rising Star designer
search two years ago. Although he didn’t win, bloggers, stylists and magazine
editors were clamouring to feature his range in their work.
With this particular collection Mdingi says
his aim was to maintain consistency while displaying creative progression. “I have an indescribable love for
fashion design; it’s something that I hold in high regard,” he said, adding
that his aim with every new collection is to exhibit growth and knowledge in
technique and design skill.
In spite of the praise that’s been showered
on the young designer, no buyers have shown interest in stocking his
collections. But since launching his brand officially, he’s already made a deal
with online fashion hub, Akedo, to sell all his past collections
and the current one on their platform, starting next month.
super hard at work to make sure that all falls into place,” he said. “Right now
it’s important for me to continue with my part-time job so I can work on the
business side of the Lukhanyo Mdingi brand.”
optimistic Mdingi also appreciates that the journey ahead will not be easy. “I’ve put my heart into an industry that is sometimes seen as super fickle, but at the same time it produces the world’s best visionaries. I’ve turned down
retail job opportunities and continued with my part-time job waiting on tables
to help build my brand, allowing me to have more creative freedom and time to
focus on my baby – the collections.”
want young aspiring designers to be aware of the struggles and hard work that
comes with building a brand without any financial resources. Hustling and
persistence are ideal when you’re working towards something.”
and passion are vital qualities in young designers like Mdingi, whose stars can
fade almost as quickly as they rise in the tough fashion biz. The challenge for
young flavours of the moment is turning acclaim into something tangible. This could be because of a lack of business acumen or an inability to see
beyond the glamour. Mdingi, however, is determined to keep afloat.
By the time he gets
into his graduation gown, he could be well on his way to establishing himself
as a fully-fledged fashion entrepreneur.
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