Held in a warehouse at the back end of the Waterfront, one can’t exactly blame those attending SA Menswear Week for the first time for muttering to themselves about how strange the venue might come off, how much less-than-glamorous the run-down Quay 7 looks from the outside as one approaches its inconspicuous doors, and how it all just doesn’t seem to be what one might expect of a gathering of the Mother City’s glamoratti. But, that’s all part of the show – the sudden bait-and-switch the organisers of this seasonal expo have become known for, by those in the know. And this year took it up a notch.

As the doors to the maritime hangar swing open, what’s on the other side shocks even those who attend every season: A moody interior told in the language of pinks and purples, an industrial-chic lounge with massage stations, hair styling booth (packed with haircare products straight from London Fashion Week), Oyster and Champagne bars, bars serving a myriad other tipples, even a pop-up store sporting some of the season’s latest trends for sale in the most unlikely of locales, packed to the brim with bodies dressed to the nines.

And this season’s runway offering was the perfect accompaniment, showcasing the best of what the city has to offer.

Crowd-favourite ONE I AM stole the first half of the day, with head designer Onesimo Bam showing off an incredible eye for tailoring that leaves little to be desired. With a tight palette and sleek lines, not only did the house become the sartorial envy of those in the front row, but definitely sated the cravings of those who missed the hard-line tailoring of ALC Menswear this season.

Another show-stopper, the Rome Wepener-led Throwaway Twenty brought the glam to the runway this season, sporting the playful masculinity this house is known and loved for.

Ensuring that the fashion-hungry had enough to chew on, Neo Serati’s collection brought beauty to the boards, showing off delicately crafted pieces in a palette that, just like the label, was headstrong and stuck to its own guns – resulting in a show that kept its flag flying high as ever.

Arguably, though, the house that soared the highest this season was Quiteria. In the midst of a strikingly beautiful tableau of soft floral accoutrement and smoke-filled bubbles, this house presented a stunning collection that left everyone on the floor lovestruck.

Source: SDR Photo

All in all, this season was an incredible one for African fashion – one that proved exactly why local fashion should not just be both lauded and taken seriously, but that, within our midst, we have couturiers able to compete with the best of them.

Text: Arlin Bantam

Picture/s: Saint John Lombard

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