Wanda Lephoto merges global nuances with distinctively African culture

Wanda Lephoto merges global nuances with distinctively African culture

In 2017, the Museum of Modern Art held a fashion exhibition titled “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”. Of the 111 items on display, one of them was a design by Wanda Lephoto, a ready-to-wear brand inspired by the exploration of modern subcultures with traditional symbolism and experiences.

Started by members of the multi-disciplinary collective The Sartists, Wanda Lephoto and Kabelo Kungwane, the brand “merges global nuances with distinctively African culture.” They re-appropriate the continent’s rich history and heritage, not for the sake of nostalgia, but to highlight neglected stories.

Opening the show with a montage of their inspiration, on Day 1 of SAFW, the duo presented a culturally charged collection linking fashion to politics, culture, and identity. The result? Menswear staples such as sportswear, workwear and formal wear with relaxed tailoring; pants with thick waistbands, shirts with contrasting stripes; and impeccably cut jackets (except for the suit jacket). Shorts were paired with puffers which may be a bit thermal for spring/summer but works in the name of aesthetics.

Taking inspiration from Umkhonto we Sizwe, military green pants were paired with a beret, and white t-shirt with the black, green,  and gold horizontal bands of the ANC flag printed on it.

The most compelling were the two final looks inspired by the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) – the largest and fastest growing African-initiated church operating in Southern Africa. Their mokhukhu dance khakhi gear was given a stylish update with delicate flower applique on the khakhi trench coat.

So, Is Fashion Modern? Wanda Lephoto suggests that fashion is about renaissance. This showcase highlights fashion’s rootedness in history and heritage.

Wanda Lephoto


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