Beginning of 2020 we all had high hopes and big dreams, but for most of us all those took an abrupt halt all thanks to the COVID19 pandemic. Nobody saw this coming and even those that did, never anticipated a negative impact of this magnitude. Although it may have not affected us as bad as the Western and European countries, a lot changed. As the lockdown restrictions relaxed, life began again and for others it was business as usual.
As we drawn the curtains to the summer season, myself and the rest of the fashion fraternity was excited looking forward to the fashion week season in Mzansi. More so the sartorial society was even more excited as Samkelo Xaba was on the line-up of the Menswear Scout Competition.
If you still remember Quarantine Conversations with Suitable People, yours suitably had the pleasure of remotely chatting to suitable people doing amazing things in the fashion world. Samkelo was one of them and it was another interesting chat as he took me through the good the bad and the ugly journey he’s been through.
I shared pages in a globally acknowledged coffee table book by Nathaniel Adams and Rose Callahan, called “We Are Dandy – Elegant Gentlemen around the World”. I’ve known him as a minimalist dandy and a true sartorialist at heart. However, through the years I’ve known him, I noticed a swift change in his aesthetics. As a qualified designer, he had to establish his own DNA and he found it and went with it through the challenges of the industry.
As an upcoming designer he faced challenges that every designer endured in their early stages of their respective businesses. Being a designer is one thing, but having to sell your brand is another elevated ball game. He entered the South African Fashion Week Menswear Scout Competition, and had to create a collection that would best describe the Boyde brand. Creating a collection for a fashion week comes with exuberant costs and expenses. Mr Xaba took into consideration of his SWOT analysis as he entered the competition and of which I’d like to believe it’s something that every designer does as showcasing is part of the business.
From our conversation he mentioned that, he wanted to create garments that are less structured and formal like suits to accommodate everyone as well as every occasion. Little did he know that the pandemic would force people to stay at home and the new normal meant that people would be working from home. Since there was no formal occasions to attend, Boyde garments were the go-to staples for essential shopping as well as those zoom meetings.
But of course the pandemic threatened his business as well as his preparation of the collection as he was self-funding it from his own pocket. Sales dropped as there was little to nobody placing orders. The mere thought of going shopping for clothes became a luxury, regardless how necessary it was. Even with all that said he stuck to his guns and soldiered on in completing the collection.
As the lockdown restrictions relaxed, we were greeted with the new normal. Although fashion weeks had to be cancelled earlier when the pandemic showed its claws, it was business as usual with the South African Fashion Week as they were grinding to find ways to keep designers motivated and optimistic for the future. For years Lucilla Booysens kept preaching the importance of supporting local talent and her vision was to see local brands getting sustainable as businesses. They were also hard at work to make sure the show goes on and it did.
Although the new normal of virtual showing was necessary, it was tricky for a lot even though there were no logistics of having to get to the fashion week venue. Personally it was a struggle for me and I’m sure I was not the only one. Having a ticket to view the show virtually was great but then there were other factors that affected the quality of viewing. Data was one of them and when I thought I got that one covered, loadshedding struck and even though I still had sufficient battery, network communication was affected.
I then had to wait for media images from Eunice Driver Photography to curate the collections. I had to go back to chatting to Mr Minimalist about his collection to get the overall impression of the inspiration behind the collection.
“The collection was inspired by contemporary modern architecture; interior designs; minimal and functional spaces. I interlinked tailoring and street–wear to build something that’s more functional and versatile. I paired tailored pants with work–wear utility jackets and trucker jackets, and a handmade bespoke classic fitted suit, with easy fitted boxy t-shirts cut from a heavy cotton lycra which are suitable for all seasons”…said Samkelo.
I further asked him about the choice of fabrics and since the SA Fashion Week brand is about the sustainable fashion, how did he incorporate that in his collection?
“I used a multitude of fibres such as linen; bull denim; heavy cotton canvas; 100% organic cotton; super 180 fine wool (suiting); tetrex; oxford; duchess satin; paisley lining and t-shirt ribbing which is woven local. I tried to use textiles that are 100% sustainable, recyclable and low-waste to save the planet since our industry is responsible for 90% of the world’s pollution”.
I spoken to him right after the official viewing of show which pre-pandemic I would have had the interview at backstage after the final walk. Usually they would present the winner the night of the shows but for obvious reasons which I’ve already mentioned above, the judges had to take some time to go through the collections and deliberate.
After my interview I said to him that if I was the judge, I would give this one to him not only for the collection but how he answered my questions. Fast-forward to this day I am proud to say Samkelo “Boyde” Xaba is the 102020 South African Fashion Week Trans-Seasonal Menswear Scout Competition winner.
To see more of his collection and the other finalist visit https://www.safashionweek.co.za/
And do follow Samkelo on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/samkeloboyde/
Until next time…