Thebe Magugu by Thebe Magugu is a womenswear designer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Thebe studied fashion design and photography at the Johannesburg Fashion Design School & Retail Education Institute – LISOF. While attending school, he explored ways to share his culture, his aesthetics, and creativity through fashion. In 2015, his talent as a designer won him the prize for "best graduate collection."
As a designer, he has delved deep into the meaning of his home's cultural traditions and experimented with how they function in and outside of their original spaces. These moments of independent study and engaging with his community have greatly enriched Magugu's womenswear. It is this incredible ability to combine South Africa's complicated past and vibrant heritage with a contemporary view on what it means to be a creative today and a global approach that makes him stand out. He stands out by using unified themes of juxtaposition. He is interested in exploring the disparity between masculinity & femininity, tradition & experiment, overlarge & abridged, and other differences in the design of his garments.
His main inspiration is the women who play essential roles in his life. "I wanted to merge motifs, prints, and just general references from my own culture with shapes and proportions that are quite tailored and are quite forward-looking," says Magugu. Sleek, forward-looking design intersects with motifs from Africa's storied past, providing smart, multifaceted clothes as valuable as the woman that wears them. He wanted to "rewrite that narrative and show people that we are capable of very contemporary shapes while keeping our heritage in check."
Thebe Magugu is one of the industry's most promising minds, creating clothes that have the power to shift global perceptions of South Africa. This celebratory attitude, which sheds light on the country's social, political, and economic progress, has become one of his hallmarks. His Fall/Winter 2019-2020 Collection, the collection which got him nominated for the LVMH Prize, tackles the idea of what it means to be African, and in his case an African designer, today. Magugu carries with him the promise of a bright future, a feeling for things to come that will undoubtedly pave the way for his career but also for the many who come after him. He is also a reminder of how things have changed in the last five years and how some African designers are slowly but surely making their marks not only here, but also on the international stage. Magugu has said, "Fashion can be such a powerful vehicle for change and to talk about pressing issues, so with my collection, I always try to have the aesthetic, yes, but also to have something a little bit more intelligent." I would have to agree.
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