Mens Fashion, Weak?
Raw concrete, matt black par cans and a flare of photographers, tall people and quivering jaws. A vibe of tropes too mediocre to be awful. Blue cancer of plastic bubbles on a designer’s neck and another acolyte of Ugly Betty lingers on a white pleather VIP couch in purple mosquito netting. Bad taste is best camouflaged self-consciously. The celebs shooting against the media wall remind us that nobody wins GQ’s most stylish man of the year without a branded waistcoat. Just like people who’ve been in advertising for ten years, it’s part of the repertoire to admit you’re actually anti your own industry. Most of the non-binary, culturally edgy people I prefer to avoid are gathered here tonight. Is that a Kenzo? is the sound of my voice grasping for trend straws. No, it’s last year’s Jody Paulsen.
The black and proud wait for their Sartorialist moment under priestly veld hats. Don Quixote’s lancing their windmills of fashionable insecurities. The most popular items of the audience are distinctly European with the feature item being a Military khaki jacket cut right-angled from square shoulder to skinny black denim and pinched by leather brogues. Two young Asian models, Luxury marketing’s latest archetypes, descend from Mount Kumotori in legless tents of luxury textile and enter the spill of isolated front row light. They panda-face the other millennials whose smartphones sync to each passing silhouette like a field of taxonomizing sunflowers.
It would be great to support South African Design if we could just define it. Is there something essential to a garment that makes it South African? If H&M use South African inspired designs in a T-shirt does it then qualify as a South African piece of fashion? Do Dutch designers have to create collections that feel Dutch? Here we can hang precariously on the edge of the question of the value of National Identities. Only ‘buying local’ surely conflicts with supporting local designers who might also collaborate with international brands. The ‘African’ term feels vague in our global hyper-culture but it’s better for the economy if we think less and buy more. Don’t listen to the ramblings of a depressed former farm boy. I was very impressed by Lukhanyo Mdingi’s show of minimalist lines in iridescent ochre. Even more so knowing he finances everything on tips from Clarkes.