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February 1, 2023
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Thebe Magugu

THEBE MAGUGU is a high-end fashion label from South Africa. We provide ready-to-wear collections as well as interdisciplinary capsule projects that explore similar topics. We are developing an identity distinguished by self-evolving timelessness via pillar practices of cultural honor, originality, and rigorous excellence. We are always looking for innovative methods to offer women and men with attire that welcomes and enriches their daily lives. Sleek, forward-thinking design collides with themes and details inspired by our continent’s historical history, complicated present, and exciting projected futures, resulting in smart, multidimensional clothing that reflects the inspirational traits of the people for whom it is designed.

Thebe Magugu, 26, was overwhelmed with emotional applause following the presentation of his current collection at South African Fashion Week last month. He bowed modestly as the models completed their final lap to Shana and Lebo Mathosa’s “Benga,” their sky blue feathered headpieces fluttering in the wind. While the vibrant, bold, and technically challenging items he presented—from cherry red, safari-inspired tailoring to a belted, single-sleeve tartan dress—were wonderfully executed, this exuberance had a deeper meaning. His contemporary reinterpretation of conventional feminine silhouettes manifests in a variety of ways. “When people hear the word South Africa, they immediately associate it with certain preconceptions. They identify it with generic prints and proportions, which is a subset of a wider issue that misses South Africans’ enormous contributions to world culture, whether medical, technological, or creative,” Magugu argues. A red flowery fitted coat, an emerald mesh dress, and an asymmetrical blue suit all veer purposefully from a restricted, Western interpretation of South African design motifs such as beadwork, animal patterns, and tribal references. By disrupting preconceived notions about South African design, Magugu creates a new visual environment for the Rainbow Nation of the modern era.
So far in 2019, Thebe Magugu has had a fantastic year. The Johannesburg-based fashion designer, born in Kimberly, became the first African to win the coveted LVMH Prize, an initiative established to encourage and elevate new designers. The winner will receive a grant of €300,000 from the LVMH group, as well as 12-months of personalized support.

The award was a significant achievement for the 26-year-old alumnus of the London International School of Fashion (LISOF), but it had been years in the making. Magugu has been scheduled and busy since graduating in 2014, alongside contemporaries such as Rich Mnisi (whom Beyonce wore when in South Africa). Shortly thereafter, in 2017, he created a capsule collection for Woolworths’ StylebySA campaign.

His namesake design label is renowned for deriving inspiration from the women in his life, South Africa’s illustrious cultural background, and for recognizing the country’s women. According to his website’s marketing statement, “we are continuously surrounded by women, and on a personal level, the attribute I have always admired the most is their remarkable ability to embody both strength and vulnerability.”

Thebe Magugu’s 2019 SA Fashion Week collection is defined by a blend of modern contemporary fashion with a dash of edge and art. Thebe Magugu’s summer/spring collection astonished guests with his extraordinary talent and potential as a fashion master.

Thebe traveled to Johannesburg from the small village of Kimberley to study fashion design, fashion photography, and fashion media at LISOF. He interned and worked for a variety of designers, fashion organizations, and retailers following his award for best graduate collection. After two years, he founded his own label, THEBE MAGUGU, a contemporary South African fashion house focused on women’s ready-to-wear with a strong emphasis on accessories and small multidisciplinary projects.

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