Words: Nicola Cooper

SAFW A/W16 in Summary

Amidst the highly charged and spirited #FeesMustFall protests in cities around South Africa, the cancellation of African Fashion International after ten years of operation, and the on-going debate about fashion and the validity of Fashion Week platforms, South African Fashion Week, with new partner Sunglass Hut, went about business as usual for their A/W 2016 showcase. The event, headed up by Lucilla Booysen, was held in Rosebank at the Crowne Plaza Hotel kicked of on Thursday 22 October 2015, and as usual saw a front row of some of fashion’s heavy weights.

The week began with an offsite party and the Gert–Johan Coetze showcase. Thursday opened with the highly anticipated SAFW// SUNGLASS HUT NEW TALENT SEARCH which did not disappoint, identifying ex-Lisof student-turned-lecturer Dean Charles Hauptfleisch as the winner. Hauptfleisch’s offering of a strong conceptual range to a platform that regularly positions its focus on saleable and ready-to-wear was encouraging to see. “Individualistic”, the brief by Dion Chang of Flux Trends, allowed for interpretation, and generated a hope that there is still room for the conceptual designer; the designer’s designer; the innovators who challenge social conformity with a bit of quirk and a highly personal, expressive approach to fashion.



The week’s lineup was a mash-up of SAFW loyals such as Clive Rundle’s Buy Clive range, Sun Goddess, Keys Fashion, and the KZN Fashion Council Collections, which all showed a noticeable increase in quality and finishing. Amanda Laird Cherry’s calm and clean approach to garments showcased a fresh line with a highly relevant colour palette for 2016. Isabelle Lotter, known for her brand Sies!Isabelle, combined the whimsy of her AW 2016 range with slogan placards in support of the #FeesMustFall protest, bringing politics onto the runway with a momentous round of applause and affirmation from the audience.


Noteworthy collections from emerging designers, such as Erre and Wake brought a strong sense of designer identity across in their collections. Wake who were the winners of last years Renault New Talent search did not disappoint in their follow up range which had many of the #Frow claiming it to be one of their favorites of the week.



The week ended with a day dedicated to a critical component, menswear. Since menswear has seen an increase across all its facets, from retail to dedicated menswear weeks, and is a generator of almost R30-billion in sales in South Africa, it seemed apt to round off the final SAFW of 2015 showcasing new and established menswear brands. Friday night saw the invite only offsite by House of Ole, while Saturday offered the SAFW SCOUTING MENSWEAR group show, as well as Touch of Bling, Amos Tranque and Ephymol sharing the final show in the WARNER MUSIC FASHION EXPERIENCE.



As many hung up their heels, sneakers, and brogues after a week of fashion and socializing, there is a keen interest in what is to come from future fashion weeks within Africa. The questions of and relevance the importance of the platform within a fast paced, ever changing, hyper-technological era do not go unheard. However, the platform which has existed consistently for almost 20 years cannot be ignored, and respect to Lucilla Booysen and her team for another SAFW. We look forward to seeing how the showcase reshapes and adapts for 2016 and the new, emerging consumer typologies.


As a keen academic and analyst, self-confessed “trend geek”, teacher, speaker and brand consultant, Nicola Cooper is a formidable presence on Africa’s fashion and lifestyle landscapes.

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