London | United Kingdom
Over the last few decades, everything has become instant, a race for the now. From the way that we prepare our food to the way we ‘consume’ fashion, it is about instant gratification with a disregard to health or its effect on the environment. Following the, quite frankly overdue, movement of consciousness, the threat that fast fashion has become to the environment, craftsmanship, artistry and even the industry is finally getting the push back. Wool, a natural, sustainable and durable textile is making a major comeback with designers and industry players working together to bring this about. One of these initiatives in South Africa is the SA Fashion Week Cape Wools SA Designer Challenge. With the coveted SA Fashion Week Cape Wools SA Designer Challenge 2018 in its second year.
The annual challenge awards two chosen South African Designers with the task to showcase the use, versatility and unique qualities that the natural textile has to offer. The two labels who were nominated for the SA Fashion Week Cape Wools SA Designer Challenge 2018 are Carina Louw and Natasha Jaume of Erre for ladies wear, and Keith Henning and Jody Paulsen of AKJP for menswear.
The judging process saw a group of international judges search through South Africa to look for designers who they feel would best showcase the textile’s versatility and help refocus the mind of the consumer. The members forming the judging panel were as follows:
Eddie Marquez, Fashion Brand Consultant, New York
Elizabeth Way, Assistant Curator of Costume at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (or The Museum at FIT)
Louis de Beer, Chief Executive Officer at Cape Wools SA.
Nicoletta Morozzi, Director of the Fashion Department at NABA
Noah Kozlowski, Global Designer Relations at IMG Fashions
Sheila-Mary Carruthers, Design Director at Carruthers Associates, Honorary Professor at Heriot Watt University, School of Textiles and Design
Following the “Adriaan Kuiters + Jody Paulsen” collaboration between Adriaan Kuiters’ designer, Keith Henning, and artist Jody Paulsen the brand AKJP was born. The uber-contemporary brand’s asymmetrical detailing and keeping balance through expression gives the Cape Town based label a truly international feel. The label holds the fine balance between artful expressionism and wearability giving the wearer the freedom to ‘funk up’ or tone down each piece (Definitely a South African designer to keep an eye on!).
Headed up by Pretoria-based designer duo Natasha Jaume and Carina Louw, the South African fashion label Erre (pronounced ‘Air’) first showcased during SA Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2014 as part of the Renault New Talent Search Collection and immediately gained a local following. The showstopper dress in this collection received a nomination at the Design Indaba as one of the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa. The combination of expert tailoring brought to the table through Carina’s experience, and Natasha’s in-depth understanding of bridal and eveningwear the brand offers a feminine power look that empowers women through their daily-wear. The design duo further emphasized the importance of long-living textiles such as wool:
“We believe that when clothing is beautifully made and timeless, it will never be thrown away.”
The rebirth of wool as a sustainable textile is a passion project by many in and out of the industry. Probably one of its best-known advocates is His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. On 13 February of this year, Prince Charles hosted the wool growing countries of the Commonwealth, of which South Africa forms part, & industry supporters for a meeting at Clarence House for Wool Week. The main objective of this meeting was to review activities for 2018 through to 2019 which will celebrate the campaign’s tenth anniversary. During this time, an official statement was released by Clarence House:
The Prince has long been sensitive to the plight of sheep farmers in this country and abroad and through his initiative, the Campaign for Wool has sought to repopularise wool as a natural fire-retardant and sustainable fabric.
In a personal statement, the Prince noted: “Wool is not only one of the oldest fibres known to mankind, but it is also one of the most beneficial”
The prize for the SAFW Cape Wools SA Designer Challenge 2018 designers will see both labels showase their AW19 and SS19 collections at SA Fashion Week sponsored for. The designers will also have the opportunity to attend the “Making It In Textiles” Conference in Bradford in the UK during October.
Images: Clarence House and SA Fashion Week