Rich Mnisi, the South African contemporary fashion label known for its fearless explorations of gender politics has released its Spring 16 catalogue. The eponymous label which was rebranded in 2015 from its debut name OATH STUDIOS, was founded by 24 year old fashion prodigy and LISOF graduate Rich Mnisi. He launched his label at the 2014 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Johannesburg, winning the coveted Africa Fashion International Young Designer of the Year award for his debut collection.
The brand’s Spring 16 collection digs deeper into this idea that clothing is genderless, employing exaggerated volume, layering and as tools in this excavation of preconceived gender ideas. The collection is dominated by leather, denim and stripes, and features belted jackets, flared pants and exaggerated denim cape jackets.
Mnisi is a master at layering, a skill he demonstrates repeatedly in this lookbook. He is able to layer several kinds of fabric in the same piece and achieve harmony instead of chaos. The new collection also draws inspiration from urban South African city life and the street style of gay and transgender South African youth. His use of large metal plugs as detailing on several of the pieces harken to the practice of stretching, which is currently gaining popularity in South African alt-sexuality subcultures. It’s a trend we first saw Nigerian designer Ian Audifferen’s TZAR experiment with in 2014 as part of his ‘triumvirate of vagrants’ collection.
Some might argue about the wearability of the Mnisi’s spring catalogue but this isn’t obviously a concern the designer lets hinder his art, and if any of the acclaim he has received over the last three seasons is anything to go by (ranking by the Superbalist, interviews and spotlight with i-D magazine) Mnisi has the critical acclaim and the ethical appeal to help him coast through the artificial barriers the complexity of his work might create.
Photographer: Paul Samuel
Producer: Kelly Fun
MUA: Kelly-Jean Gilbert/Liezl Leach
Assistant: Siphesihle Zondo
Photographers Assistant: Siviwe James
Models: Luke van der Burg, William Nkuna, Gladys Brown, Tommie Fourie & Refiloe Seretlo