SA Fashion Week 16: Esnoko is derivative

Zambian label Esnoko has an impressive sixteen years of experience creating bespoke menswear tailoring with the unique bent of creating with African inspired wax prints. With that kind of expertise and experience in the bag, the label had a somewhat disappointing outing at the 2016 SA Fashion Week summer showcase.

The label shows a collection of classic summer staples and silhouettes done in well recognized African inspired wax prints. While these prints might not have become widespread in Zambia and South Africa, most of Western, Central and East Africa regular use these prints at personal and family functions.

These prints have also been the foundation on which West Africa’s ’boutique label’ craze was built with several hundred independent labels springing up, offering denim and khaki staples embellished or detailed with African wax print inserts. Chiza Ngulube, the creative director should have been well aware of this and gone the route of South African label By DS and maybe experimented with creating their own versions of classic African inspired prints, if not original prints altogether.

However it is Esnoko’s accessories that are the collection’s saving grace. His bright print duffel bags, ankara ties and flat caps and folios add a a flair to his looks that draw the eye and keep it long after the rest of the look has been taken in.  It helps us over look Ngulube’s misguided effort at androgyny, a drop waist pleated dress worn over a white dress shirt that looks like it has been taken from an older woman’s wardrobe.

It begs the question, at what point does a label need fresh direction? Chiza Ngulube’s derivative collection is a mistake that shouldn’t be made on a platform as big as the South Africa Fashion Week. It might be team to expand his design team.

Photo Credits: safashionweek.co.za

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