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Pan African Fashion: Thebe Magugu goes online

Thebe Magugu AW20
Thebe Magugu AW20

The LVMH-Prize winner debuts his online store, offering his compelling women’s and new men’s collections - along with other special projects.

“I wanted to make an open invitation into my universe – making it more tangible and accessible”, says Thebe Magugu on the launch of his global online store thebemagugu.com, where you can shop the brand’s womenswear collections, an exciting new tee line and a variety of publishing projects. The site is inspired by the front-end look of .edu websites, which references the brands academic approach. The spines of a stack of books in the ‘Collections’ menu bear the name of each season from the brand, and are open to Thebe’s research on each of those collections. In the shop section, women’s and accessories are offered from the AW20 season, along with select pre-fall items exclusive to the store and all 6 Dover Street Market stores.

Thebe Magugu AW20

The site was done in special collaboration between Thebe Magugu, Commission Studio and Official Business. “The styles I have chosen to launch cater to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres I cater to”, he adds, “so it’s quite transeasonal”.

The brand's new AW20 campaign – shot by South African image-maker Travys Owen - launches on the site, which features 9 of the designer’s closest friends, caught in a variety of situations. “I wanted to take 4 objects I fondly remember from my childhood and somehow reanimate them into a fashion context – like the pot the girls are all dancing around”, he says, referring to an image of 9 girls dancing in Bishop Sleeve Bohemian Dresses around a pot that spews siren red smoke. This is in reference to a cultural ceremony his family must perform every few years called ‘Mpho Ya Badimo [Gift of The Gods]’, “but also a reference to one of my favourite plays, Arthur Miller’s the Crucible.”

Thebe Magugu AW20

This idea of using personal cues informs many of the site’s details –like the look books which feature models standing on washing tubs, which foreground white sheets hanging on clothing lines or how certain garments on the store have a dedicated ‘behind the garment’ drop down box, which explains their inception and the cultural reference from which they pull.

A new line of tees also launches on the store, and is exclusive to all 5 Dover Street Markets in Los Angeles, New York, London, Beijing, Singapore and Japan. Titled Extracurricular, the line gets its name from the fact that it would be the main brands ‘after-school activity’. The line will feature a series of doodles illustrating a stick-figure in various situations, and the first drop features a doodle of that figure sipping tea while everything around it burns in flames – a nod to the reckoning times we are in.

Thebe Magugu AW20

“With Extracurricular, I wanted to create a space that's youth-facing, prioritizing ideas of community, inclusion and most importantly, the light-heartedness I have so missed in 2020”, which is shown in the line’s first campaign shoot, shot by South African digital artist Francesco Mbele (20) and featuring 12 of the most exciting young creative in the country, whose fields span from art and music to fashion and photography. The campaign is fashioned around the idea of an early 2000’s High School class photo, further referencing the name of the line.

One of the sites final features is a section titled FACULTY PRESS, which is the zine started by Thebe Magugu in 2019, created as a journal that documents contemporary South Africa, Africa, and the greater diaspora – removed from the gaze of the west’s auto-exotic eye. “I am so deeply inspired by my peers – designers, photographers and artists - who are using their respective mediums to truly take charge of their own narratives as individuals and as Africans, and I wanted a place to document all this”. One can also buy the physical zine on the stores publishing section.

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