south african township fashion aims for world stage

September 11, 2018
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The influence of “Kasi fashion”—originated in the townships of South Africa—can never be minimized when talking about the country’s ever-expanding fashion industry. Kasi fashion, usually makes its way into South African trends through style influence alone, as the fashion industry is structured in a manner that prevents township creatives from accessing larger platforms because of financial and societal barriers to entry. Design creative Hakim Ngcongwane seeks to address the fashion industry/township divide through his apparel line Critic Studios, created as a vehicle for bringing Kasi fashion to the world stage.

Ngcongwane hails from the robust township of Atteridgeville, located in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital. Critic Studios is also a child of that township, serving as a visual representation of the positives and negatives that form the often distressing reality that comes with township living. The designer told AFROPUNK about the brands latest enterprise DISTRESSED PROJECT, which “references fashion and cultural history by focusing on the uniform aesthetics of the elderly men and women in our township (Atteridgeville) as opposed to how the millennial consumer views design and fashion.” The collection focuses on the colors red, green and black, which feature in the Pan African flag and the South African flag, making a statement to the Black millennial South Africans. The flag was designed as a representation of unity through the combination of the Boer Republics red, white and blue and the Pan-African green, yellow and black.

The DISTRESSED PROJECT also functions as the voice of a fashion label borne out of a disadvantaged community. The project speaks to Critic Studio’s journey finding new and innovative ways to depict the financial and infrastructural struggles of creating a business with little resources and exposure. The project also aims to pose questions to the viewer: Are you merely a consumer or do you have a vested interest in creatives like Ngcongwane getting their chance to make their voice heard in a fashion community that rarely features the voices of disadvantaged?

This undertaking by Ngcongwane and his collaborators is bold, inventive and an attestation to the unyielding South African spirit that has pushed African art and expression onto the world stage in a big way. High fashion often omits its less advantaged influences so Critic Studios will serve as a fascinating movement to watch as it tackles its mission of making township fashion global.

BRAND: @critic_studios
MAKE UP: @Seddycreatives_
STYLING: @Lunga_ntila and @Seddycreatives_
MODEL: @kopano17
PROJECT MANAGEMENT: @hakimngcongwane