“Ive been rummaging through a lot of discarded clothing at Dunusa* - an area in downtown Johannesburg where America & Europe dump piles of second-hand, often soiled garments. It got me thinking about globalisation’s effect on national stylistic identity - it’s not rare to see a local woman wearing a traditional shweshwe-fabric waxed wrap skirt, often reserved for special ceremonies, paired with a promotional VODAPHONE or Manchester United polyester tee. This hybridity - an unintentional dialogue between ‘The West & The Rest’ - was the start point of this collection”.Subverting ideas from Thorstein Veblen’s 1899 essay “The Theory of the Leisure Class”, the collection experiments with the idea of a ‘trickle-up fashion theory’, instead of the trickle-down version discussed by Veblen, which argues that fashion starts with the bourgeoisie and makes its way down the classes, eventually ending up in places such as Dunusa. With SS23, Thebe Magugu is interested in how Dunusa can shoot items considered ‘old hat’ back up into a luxury space.“The collection was built by sourcing discarded clothing at Dunusa, bringing it into the studio, where I analysing silhouettes and proportions, cut into them to expand, then refashioned them in updated materials”. There is a ‘soft decay’ about the collection from a design POV - as if once magnificent clothing is seeing the early stages of damage. Fraying appliqué, gashes of slits and pleated skirts that seem torn into are motifs that communicate the season’s direction.Titled “DISCARD THEORY”, the 20-look collection also has an associating 15 minute process documentary Thebe Magugu shot in downtown Johannesburg on site at Dunusa and in his studios.Highlights from this collection will be shown in London as part of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s “Fashion in Motion” series.
*Dunusa translates into English as “Bend Over”, describing the action ones takes when shopping there.