Breaking Barriers with Rich Mnisi and Thebe Magugu

Rich Mnisi & Thebe Magugu

The South African fashion industry has always been somewhat of the black sheep of fashion week, producing a grand master of the art once every few years. Names like Errol Arendz, David Tlali and Gert-Johan Coetzee are names synonymous with fashions grand maestros. But as the fashion tides change, we give light to a new breed of fashion Titians!

The age of Rich Mnisi and Thebe Magugu
Rich Mnisi
Thebe Magugu

Rich Mnisi and Thebe Magugu have not only become indigenous names that are synonymous with luxury clothing and the finer things in life. These two contemporary fashion brands are steeped in the vibrant culture of the South African youth and relentlessly push the South African narrative on pop culture and what it is to be proudly African

Effortlessly depicted through their visual fashion editorials, these visionaries keep pushing the status quo, where they have mastered the age old custom of storytelling. This has allowed them to breathe life into their reimagined narratives. Both designers debuted collections via digital platforms, which took place during Milan and Paris Fashion week respectively.  See their latest collections below

Rich’s HIYA-KAYA-21 collection was part of Vogue Italia’s 2020 edition of Vogue Talents Digital Event under their Scouting for Africa initiative which took place at Milan Fashion week. Shot in Limpopo, Eastern Cape and the Western Cape, his film takes us on a visual journey that transcends beyond the already captivating garments.

Source: @rich_mnisi
Source: @rich_mnisi
Source: @rich_mnisi

The juxtaposition shown between the harsh and unbridled terrain, and the lightweight fabrics used in the collection, bares reference to the fragility of how the masculine and feminine are intertwined.  Rich described the fashion film as a ‘heart-felt love letter to the VaTsonga people’, which pays homage to his heritage.

Thebe’s collection took more of a political stance, in his collection dubbed


Centred on his fascination with the psychology of ex anti-Apartheid spies. Narrations from the book “Betrayal” by Jonathan Ancer, becomes the soundtrack that subdues you into the world of political espionage- a South African narrative that’s one of the first of its kind.

Thebe makes use of lightweight knits, asymmetrical hemlines and some seemingly unusual silhouettes that lures one into a visual aesthetic that provides a subtlety to a genre known for its toughness and brut masculinity

Source: @thebemagugu
Source: @thebemagugu

Source: @thebemagugu

An irrefutable fact remains that these two titans of industry are at the forefront of challenging the status quo in the fashion industry and redefining the role that the South African context plays therein. That being said, there’s only one question left to ask… Are you team

Mnisi or Magugu?