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South African fashion: how Cape Town and Johannesburg are drawing in tourists and creating a new style aesthetic

In News

Cape Town is celebrated for its extraordinary coast, its rolling purple and green wineries, its jagged mountains and Mediterranean climate.

Today, however, behind the candyfloss pink, peppermint green and buttermilk yellow houses of Bo-Kaap and the Waterkant, there are boutiques filled with colourful knitwear from MaXhosa by Laduma, carpet-skimming dresses by Rich Mnisi, and bias-cut coats courtesy of Mmuso Maxwell.

This transformation is down to a few visionary designers who have worked tirelessly to overcome the problems facing the local textile community. For years, South Africa, a country with 11 official languages, largely followed fashion trends handed down from America and Europe. This was mostly due to the fact that apartheid deemed any non-white tradition irrelevant, so the rich worlds of Cape Malay, Zulu, Xhosa and Khoisan design were swept aside.

A recently renewed emphasis on local craft techniques, however, has combined with an extraordinary array of rising talent to create an exciting new aesthetic; add that to the mix the creative energy of a growing city and the result is one of the most innovative fashion scenes in the world.

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