Mzukisi Mbane’s Imprint is at the forefront of South Africa’s embrace of androgynous menswear alongside Rich Mnisi and Jenevieve Lyons. The brand which has had two previous outings at SA Mens, has had to up the ante with each collection, and they have done that with relish, pushing the boundaries of what menswear and fashion is about for the 21st century African man.
The new collection continues to draw on the influences from its Spring 2016 collection, ‘Our Roots’, and so the shawl capes and draping remain. But Mbane sheds most of the bright ankara prints, the straw hats and the shorts, all summer influences for a darker palette and true wanderer aesthetics. The first look sets the tone for the rest of the collection, a ‘virginal’ man in a shawl, edged with ankara; reminiscent of the Virgin Mary straight out of a catholic prayer handbook. Our man is also in bleach white platform heels and a shawl blouse. This juxtaposition of sainthood continues through the collection.
The prints Mbane uses in this collection are muted, they are accents instead of the main narrative. Instead, jersey and cotton are Mbane’s canvas, and he drapes them expertly over his models, creating shawls and capes and headbands. Mbane also goes a step further in his play on gender, putting mini-kilts on the runway, draped under layers of ankara. This is Moses in the wilderness but with an Instagram and a crowd of adoring fans who egg him to get shirtless. It is a very interesting position from which to approach creating a collection and while on paper, it shouldn’t work but it does.
The real gems of of the collection are the accessories. Mbane creates brightly coloured oversized coin purses that delight and will easily cross over into womenswear. Those and his many iterations of the beaded necklace are things we want in our wardrobes right now.