Friday, March 1, 2024

Ikere Jones, Lukhanyo Mdingi & More Showcase at Pitti Uomo’s “Generation Africa” Event

Last week saw the launch of Mens Fashion Week in Milan (see here for the full mens schedule) and coinciding over in Florence, came the second Pitti Uomo for menswear where Ikere Jones, Lukhanyo Mdingi x Nicholas CouttsAdriaan Kuiters + Jody Paulsen (AKJP) and U.Mi-1 revealed their collections for Autumn/Winter’16 as part of the “Generation Africa” showcase.

Generation Africa Backstage (c) Trevor Stuurman (1)

The event was held as part of the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiatives African Designer Program, aimed to promote the continent’s talent as well as highlight social issues – and this year, teaming with Italian organisation Lai-momo, the event shone a light on the issue of migrants, and cast three asylum seekers as models for the show.

AKJP Finale Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

South Africa’s AKJP (a mens and womenswear label founded by designers Keith Henning and Jody Paulsen) revealed colourful pieces of animal print, that walked the ramp accessorised by sandals. Inspiration came from a combination of sounds in the re-released version Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man (1973) and “the subtropical landscape of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.”


AKJP Look 12 Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

Fellow SA-natives, designers Lukhanyo Mdingi and Nicholas Coutts collaborated on their take on Autumn/Winter, in order to “illuminate each other’s aesthetics” – Coutts known for his signature woven style, and Mdingi bringing his minimalist approach.

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The results of their collection, inspired by “Africa’s natural landscape”, was richly-hued outerwear, including coats that came textured down a side, or wrapped in thickly-woven, striped scarves; tops that’d been given a similar treatment, with a fringed and patterned patch to their front.

Lukhanyo Mdingi x Nicholas Coutts backstage at  Generation Africa (c) Trevor Stuurman (39)

Nigerian talent Walé Oyéjidé’s label, Ikire Jones took to the catwalk with inspiration from the “migrant crisis” that’s been at the centre of European news – the designer saying he drew ideas from “the stories of those who have crossed oceans and borders in search of a better home.”


This would explain why Jones’ signature, well-tailored garments had travel at their heart; two-pieces that looked comfortable enough to catch flight in, yet stylish enough to make waves in 1st class; prints including Japanese paintings and patterns recalling of ankara.

Ikiré Jones backstage at Generation Africa (c) Trevor Stuurman (70)

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Also from Nigeria, Gozi Ochonogor of U.mi-1 delivered a range inspired by Yoruba culture, mimicking the “dying tradition” of tribal marking, which were presented via bold appliqué to trousers and jackets; raw hems and careful pleating on shirts.

U.Mi-1 backstage at Generation Africa (c) Trevor Stuurman (239)

U.Mi-1 Finale Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

The designer also worked colour and stripes into the range, recalling of Asooke.

U.Mi-1 Look 07 Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

U.Mi-1 Look 06 Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

The showcase, attended by key industry insiders, professionals and tradesmen revealed a bright and growing future of menswear coming from the continent, with Head of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, Simone Cipriani saying;

“We continue our collaboration… to showcase the creativity of Africa. We want to convey a different image of the continent, one of innovation and diversity with a strong youthful energy for positive change.

Pitti Uomo is the perfect platform for the designers to express their vision and show that Africa means serious business.”

We at SPICE fell for everything we saw walk the catwalk at the “Generation Africa” event, and thank the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative for bringing some of our favourite designers – Ikere Jones, Lukhanyo Mdingi, Nicholas Coutts, Adriaan Kuiters + Jody Paulsen (AKJP) and U.Mi-1 – and their brilliant Autumn/Winter’16 collections to the fore.

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