Originally from the South African mining town of Kimberley, Thebe Magugu moved to Johannesbu­rg to study fashion at LISOF. The 2019 winner of the LVMH Prize, he continues to fly the flag for African culture and provenance, using his eponymous label to highlight social issues, local standards of production, and the potential for growth.

‘I think African stories have often been told by people who aren’t African, and thus distort accounts for their own agenda,’ says Magugu. ‘The collection­s are inspired by real people and their stories; stories that are often missed in the history books.’ These include the human rights activists of Black Sash, who inspired Magugu’s S/S19 collection, and spies who worked for and against the apartheid regime, whom he interviewe­d for his S/S21 offering. The resulting collection brims over with hidden details, including patterns developed from the fingerprin­ts of a former spy, and a print featuring official confession­s provided by the South African government.

‘Instead of working abroad, I want to create something for us, by us. I think this sentiment, now more than ever, is shared by many designers working on the continent,’ says Magugu, who launched his online store in 2020, making his women’s collection­s and special projects available worldwide. thebemagug­u.com

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