South Africa has shaken off its habit of simply replicating international fashion trends, Chris Viljoen, fashion director at e-commerce retailer Superbalist, says.
“These days we cherry-pick what works for us and reinterpret that through the lens of local heritage,” Viljoen tells Business Insider South Africa.
“And we're not only looking at fashion; it's music, art and the broader world of design that inspires the youth in this country.”
The best place to keep track of South African fashion is on Instagram, he says.
“Style is a democracy instead of that is dictated from the top down by magazine editors.”
Tanya Pangalele, fashion and beauty public relations manager at Woolworths, agrees.
She says young influencers are reimagining their own heritage for a modern society, and that is what excites her most about South African fashion right now.
“Something interesting is happening on the streets where street styling and local drivers are driving the fashion agenda,” Pangalele says.
“International designers are still a key influence, however, local bloggers and influencers are now paramount.”
These are the biggest local fashion trends Woolworths and Superbalist see for the summer season.
Woolworth’s Pangalele says bursts of florals, lace inserts, ruffles, ruching, shirring, draping. and flowing silhouettes are all back in.
“Pretty dresses and feminine blouses exude a sense of escapism to happy times and positivity,” she says.
She advises picking cosmetic nudes, pink tones, and muted pastels contrasted with darker shades.
Superbalist’ Viljoen says the name of the game is high-low dressing.
“This means all the style and attitude is in unexpected combinations of smart and casual, street and sophisticated.”
“It’s time for yellow, mustard and green! I’m talking high impact! [But] everything needs to be paired with a sneaker to get that high-low balance right.”
It’s all about big, long, loose, and relaxed for men right now, says Viljoen.
But this doesn't mean untidy or slouchy.
“Soft or subtle elements of tailoring are essential.”
For instance, Viljoen says, front-pleated trousers are back with bigger shoulders and more relaxed fitting suit jackets.
“The overall flavour of men's fashion is decidedly retro at the moment. We're still going through a big '90s phase.”
He suggests that men give their denims, and some of their tees, a new lease on life with the side-taping fad.
“Short sleeve resort shirts also feature in a big way, offering a relaxed and lightweight way to layer up this summer.”
Must-have items include resort shirts, the dad sneaker, light-wash frayed-ankle jeans, bucket hats, chino shorts, cargo shorts, side-taped sweat shorts, oversized tees, and an old-school Casio watch.
The tailoring influences of past seasons continue to be in fashion with an easier, pared-down aesthetic, Woolworth’s Pangalele says.
She recommends using interchangeable pieces grounded in icy pastels and concrete-to-earthy neutral tones.
“A rich interplay of texture, print and warm colour underscore long, fluid silhouettes, where asymmetry and layering play a key role with references gathered from around the world,” she says.
The colour palette is inspired by sumptuous decoration and eclectic prints gathered from the southern hemisphere, culminating into an artisanal mood.
Superbalist's Viljoen says accessories are huge for men’s fashion right now.
“Look out for moon bags, chain link necklaces and bracelets, cross-body bags, bucket hats, retro watches, brit-pop sunglasses and sporty socks,” he says.
Men should get ready for rave-inspired colours and motifs across a bold range of tees featuring wild, graphic prints and slogans.
Street culture is elevated with a modern approach, taking everyday pieces and fusing them with utility details, Pangalele says, combining traditional heritage fabrics and timeless classics with sporty and utility elements.
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