June is Youth Month in South Africa. A month that holds deep sentiment to South Africans, especially the class of 1976. In 1994, June 16th was declared as the commemoration of National Youth Day in South Africa. This is the day the country reflects on the massacre of school children during the Soweto uprising of 1976. During the month of June, the country is encouraged to participate in #YouthMonth by recognizing the present and future role of the youth in shaping the socio-economic landscape of the country.
The SA 2020 fourth quarter Labour Force Survey found that about 8.6 million young people aged between 15 and 34 years are not in education and not in employment. With new graduates coming out yearly, the scarcity of jobs is becoming evident. To celebrate Youth Month with South Africans, we have decided to highlight some young talented creatives who are carving their own paths and narrating their own stories through the creative arts and related disciplines.
Maxwell Boko and Mmuso Potsane, the Johannesburg-based designers behind MMUSOMAXWELL, combine African heritage with contemporary culture to create ready-to-wear high-end women’s garments. Designed for the modern woman, practicality and accentuated details are the trademark of their pieces. They hope that, as they grow, they can continue creating pieces that pieces that celebrate South African industries.
MMUSOMAXWELL dressed the iconic Beyoncé in 2018 when she visited SA for the Global Citizen Festival. Recently, they won the Karl Lagerfeld – Woolmark 2022 Prize for Innovation. This is an international award that recognizes and celebrates the up-and-coming designers around the globe whose work showcases the versatility and beauty of Merino wool. Since 1954, the Woolmark Prize has been the hallmark of the fashion industry.
MUNKUS is a South African luxury brand by Thando Ntuli. The brand offers ready-to-wear collections that can be layered into multiple looks for every occasion. Their collections create an entire experience with youthful attire that tells a story through colors and prints. Rooted in integrity, novelty, and quality as a culture, MUNKUS allows you to identify with your humble beginnings. With classic silhouettes influenced by 80s and 90s South African fashion, MUNKUS is a brand that creates an intergenerational modern style for the people. They are the winner of the South African Fashion Week – New Talent Search 2022 Prize.
St Reign is a minimalist leather accessories brand that is inspired by merging luxe crafting and design. Founded by Samkelisiwe Mhlongo- Setshedi in 2017, St Reign advocates for sustainability and slow fashion. The leather they use on their handcrafted bags includes vegetable-tanned- leather (a leather tanned using plant matter). Samkelisiwe draws inspiration for her products from her grandmother who loved mending clothes and her mother, a hairstylist who owned hair salons working alongside her sister. Her current focus is to launch a St Reign Studio, which is going to be a RTW label that explores different textiles and crafts.
St Reign’s highlights include being part of South Africans’ Design Indaba Emerging Creatives Class of 2020. They have also been featured in the film, Future of Fashion Indaba (By Rewoven). The brand also received a FIASA Accessory Designer of the Year nomination in 2021. You can check out their social media platforms @st_reign for more.
Siyababa Atelier is a conceptual brand by Siyabonga Mtshali. A brand that pioneers a new African avant-garde by marrying art and fashion and drawing inspiration from Black Queer narratives. It is driven by a strong multidisciplinary ethos that houses, nurtures, and elevates the many dialogues of the diaspora. The brand looks to change how the world views the Black Queer body. Through fashion, Siyabonga is changing the narrative and creating something that young kids can look up to – something he never had growing up as a bisexual Zulu (native) man.
Siyababa Atelier strays from traditional ideas of fashion by offering conceptual design and styling services. It escapes the route of fast fashion and presents apparel with a message.
Boyde is an ethical contemporary clothing brand that prioritizes sustainability, longevity, durability, and functionality. Launched in 2017 by Samkelo Boyde Xaba, Boyde draws inspiration from geometric modernism, modern industrial architecture, and minimalist aesthetics. His garments are environmentally friendly and produced via ethically and environmentally sound production procedures. He uses natural and sustainable fabrics that are recyclable and last longer.
Boyde clothing is versatile and trans-seasonal. With carefully engineered garments locally produced for day-to-day living in a minimal and ethical manner, his aim is to achieve an ecological balance by avoiding the depletion of natural resources and protecting our natural environment, social equality, and ecological health. Samkelo is the winner of SA Fashion Week’s 2020 Scouting Menswear Competition.
Considering the buzzing fast fashion industry, it’s great to see successful slow fashion brands for a change. South African creatives are talented beyond measure and this list just goes to show that creatives are putting in the work while they embrace every opportunity presented to them. This Youth Month we celebrate each and every creative pushing boundaries and changing the narrative.