Designer Lukhanyo Mdingi at his Menswear Fashion Week AW show in Cape Town, February 2015

LUKHANYO MDINGI AT BOASTON SOCIETY BRIDGES GAP BETWEEN RUNWAY AND STREETWEAR

“It’s very segmented: people who do runway fashion look down on streetwear and people doing streetwear think they are doing better.”

These were the words of Boaston Society founder Elisha Mpofu this past weekend at #ConversationsOnCreativity, hosted by Creative Nestlings.

I wanted to stand up and cheer because Elisha made it clear that he thought there are good things happening in both. Unfortunately, there’s no cross-engagement between the two, leaving us with false perceptions on both sides. I agree.

Putting his money where his mouth is, Elisha said his store Boaston Society (Long Street, Cape Town) was moving towards becoming a fashion store rather than being what it started out as- a streetwear fashion store. In case you are getting confused: by “fashion”, I am referring to something that is all encompassing when it comes to clothing. As such, Boaston Society now stock Lukhanyo Mdingi, the runway fashion wunderkind (f*** what you heard or didn’t hear) who has been impressing the fashion industry in-crowd since entering ELLE Rising Star two years ago. Can I get a ‘amen’?

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During his turn on the mic at #ConversationsOnCreativity Elisha also touched on what I refer to as the ‘poverty of ideas’ that is crippling creativity in South Africa. There are just too many people out there doing the same stuff, not innovating and just pushing sh** out to consumers thinking people will bite. You can’t! Cash-strapped, as most of us are, we are happy to pay for something that is value for money. Ripping off Laduma Ngxokolo and selling his idea under a different name just won’t work, ask the many brands that all jumped on the Afro-conscious vibe that Stoned Cherrie put out early last decade. Where are they?

We get tired. Yes, nothing is original but it can be a fresh take on the old, so why not collaborate and see what can be achieved combining two or more ideas of the same kind?

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It’s not easy, that’s for sure, because creative people in general are very precious and as Erykah Badu puts it: “Keep in mind that I’m a artist and I’m sensitive about my sh***”. I am too but for the sake of moving forward: there’s power in numbers. Let’s be open to new ideas. And let me just say thatskattie.com wouldn’t exist if my co-editor, friend and business partner Malibongwe and I chose to keep working in silos being precious about our solo missions. 

I, for one, am glad that Lukhanyo Mdingi is being stocked at Boaston Society where he could be selling to customers who have probably never even heard of him because they probably think of the fashion week circuit as stiff, boring, etc, etc and probs don’t engage with fashion media because snooty, right? There are too many misconceptions about the South African fashion industry at large and we can always do with exposing talent such as Lukhanyo to people beyond the limits of the fashion industry in-crowd because at the end of the day, we all wear clothes, so why not expose EVERYONE to beautiful clothes?

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What we can take away from this is that opening up ourselves to new ideas can unleash opportunities we may have never imagined. I doubt Lukhanyo ever thought he’d find his eponymous label stocking a retail brand known as a streetwear brand before anything, but here it is!

This is just my ramble because, knowing about the good stuff brands such as Young ‘n Lazy, Simon Deporess, and others that don’t feature on fashion week runways, are doing and knowing what emerging talent is doing on these platforms- Rich Mnisi, Alexandra Blanc, among others- it is only my wish that the streets can stay woke to it and vice versa. It’s from there that we can build a better industry and a more diverse (in terms of ideas) creative community.

Image: Simon Deiner/SDR Photo and @MrTyilo

@Sandiso_N 

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