South Africa’s Thebe Magugu has become the first African recipient of the prestigious LVMH Prize Young Designer award.
The LVMH Prize was created by the French luxury conglomerate to celebrate young fashion designers from around the world and propel their careers.
Magugu has had a busy year, after he won the 2019 International Fashion Showcase, he was announced as one of the eight finalists for this year’s LVMH Prize.
Magugu competed with 7 other young designers which included, Nigerian Kenneth Ize, British designer Bethany Williams and Hed Mayner from Israel.
The top contestants had to present their collections to 63 judges including Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, US designer from the eponymous label Marc Jacobs, and the executive vice-president of Louis Vuitton, Delphine Arnault.
Magugu’s management and showroom team, the Fashion Agent said they were proud of the young designer’s achievement.
The Fashion Agent provides African fashion brands through their wholesale channels to retailers, online platforms, professional independent boutique and concept stores on the African continent and abroad.
The young designer told the judges before scooping the ultimate LVMH Prize, that his home country was a hub of talent, great minds and people but the system was failing them.
He said; “Talent cannot be detained at customs and South Africa needs to realise that fashion can be a multi-million if not billion-rand industry. With LVMH having access to distribution channels and network, I want to tap into that and hopefully bring it back home. I want to build a brand with international implications that is still based and sustains itself within Johannesburg, South Africa and export to Paris or New York”.
Magugu added that he knows there’s so much that still needed to be done in terms of infrastructure and hopefully the collections he was “showcasing are a testament of the possibility that can become the promise of South Africa to take us back to the manufacturing and textile industry we once were.
“I told LVMH that one of the things I struggle with is distribution. As much as it’s easier to get anything into South Africa, exporting and taking things out of the country is a problem and THE FASHION AGENT has made that process slightly smoother.”
Delphine Arnault the “I’m delighted that, for the first time an African candidate has won the Prize. His creative work appropriates the codes of menswear and womenswear of the traditional and the experimental, playing with volumes and traditional South African know how.”