Sunday Times

ASIAN DE­SIGN­ERS IN JOBURG

Silk fur and raf­fia lace are just two of the fas­ci­nat­ing in­no­va­tions be­ing shown by new de­sign­ers

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‘Fash­ion is in­stant lan­guage.” So said world-fa­mous de­signer Mi­uc­cia Prada. If that state­ment is true we should all be hav­ing more con­ver­sa­tions. The or­gan­is­ers be­hind Africa Fash­ion In­ter­na­tional’s Fash­ion Week Joburg, which is on at Mel­rose Arch, cer­tainly think so, and they’ve part­nered with some of Asia’s top de­sign­ers to start a di­a­logue — #AfroAsia.

De­sign­ers Eric Raisina from Cam­bo­dia, An­tiArch from Shang­hai and 5-Knot from Ja­pan are in Joburg to present their col­lec­tions.

Raisina was born in Mada­gas­car, where he won “New Young De­signer of the Year” at the Fash­ion Fes­ti­val and Tex­tile Com­pe­ti­tion in 1993. The award en­abled him to study tex­tiles and fash­ion at École Des Arts Ap­pliqués Du­perré Paris on a scholarshi­p and he later re­ceived a Master’s de­gree from the In­sti­tut Français de la

Mode.

“I love work­ing with nat­u­ral fi­bres be­cause of their beau­ti­ful tex­tures and or­ganic flex­i­bil­ity. ‘Silk Fur’, made of silk or­ganza, and ‘Raf­fia Lace’, made of nat­u­ral raf­fia, are two of my in­no­va­tions,” he says.

An­tiArch is a menswear la­bel founded by Oliver Weiyu Zhang, who stud­ied ar­chi­tec­ture de­sign in the US. He spent his fi­nal year of study in Tokyo, Ja­pan, where he changed di­rec­tion and de­cided to pur­sue a ca­reer in the fash­ion in­dus­try. He then stud­ied at Par­sons School of De­sign in New York, where he won a “De­signer of the Year” award.

Ena Kizawa and Taketo Nishino are the cre­ative tal­ents be­hind 5-Knot, which won the cov­eted DHL De­signer Award last year. The brand was started in 2013 with their “Jour­ney and Vin­tage” col­lec­tion, in­spired by land­scapes and scenery, towns, cul­ture and vin­tage items.

A de­sign from 5-Knot Fall 2018 col­lec­tion

The founder and CEO of AFI, Dr Pre­cious Moloi-Mot­sepe, says: “AFI Joburg Fash­ion Week 2018 is a plat­form for our best and most ad­ven­tur­ous de­sign­ers to show­case their work. It is also an op­por­tu­nity to col­lab­o­rate and ex­change ideas and knowl­edge with their peers, in­ter­sect­ing Africa with Asia.

“We are ex­cited by the prospect of dif­fer­ent takes on street style, for ex­am­ple. This is one of the hottest fash­ion trends glob­ally and African fash­ion­istas love to bring their own flair into how they wear their brands and cel­e­brate Africa’s de­sign her­itage, es­pe­cially its fab­rics. This will of­fer an in­spir­ing new in­gre­di­ent and a fresh edge to African fash­ion.”

Paul Leisegang, head of global part­ner­ships for AFI, ex­plains: “The ini­tial ob­jec­tive of AFI was to pack­age and pro­mote African tal­ent to the rest of the world. and these kinds of part­ner­ships do just that. We have part­nered with all the ma­jor fash­ion cap­i­tals, but have not done so with Asia un­til now. The ques­tion is why not? It’s one of the big­gest mar­kets in the world.”

An­other rea­son for this col­lab­o­ra­tion, he says, is that, like the SA fash­ion in­dus­try, the Asian in­dus­try is driven by cul­ture.

The part­ner­ship is long term, of­fer­ing both sides an op­por­tu­nity to learn from the other to cul­ti­vate an ex­change of ideas. This ex­change will take place twice a year for three years with Asian de­sign­ers com­ing to South Africa and South African de­sign­ers go­ing to the Ama­zon Tokyo Fash­ion Week.

“We chose to in­vite them to Joburg be­cause it is such a melt­ing pot of cul­tures,” says Leisegang. “It’s been won­der­ful to see that Africans and Asians talk the same fash­ion lan­guage.” LS

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