Lukhanyo Mdingi: All Want To Be Seen, All Want To Be Heard
Artist Lukhanyo Mdingi
Words Christian Ruess
After getting mesmerized by his creations featured on Document Journal, we were over the moon for having had the chance to chat with Cape Town’s own Lukhanyo Mdingi. Being the hot topic that it is, Africa’s creative industry is booming, with fashion playing a leading role in this extraordinary movement.
When it comes to South African designs, colors are only the surface. Wrapped in the beauty of wild, natural shapes and deep colors that gets us right down to our soul, there is a world of tradition that just keeps reinventing itself. In conversation with Container Love, the South African fashion designer told us about his take on fashion’s extreme individualism, the new generation of Africa’s creatives and a love that is strong enough to unite a continent.
What is your first memory that involves clothing?
Thinking back, there was definitely a moment, witnessing clothing through the medium of television and print media. I felt an immediate pull towards clothing and the very spirit that came with fashion. Well, witnessing fashion through the medium of television as well as in the print media, back when I was younger. I can’t recall the exact moment, but I clearly remember that I felt an immediate pull towards clothing and the very spirit that came with fashion.
What is the first image that comes to your mind when someone mentions African fashion?
It’s funny, because I don’t necessarily think about fashion in the sense of clothing. Fashion to me is rather about faces and key individuals that are using their time and talent as a means of service, pushing a narrative that is based on representation. It’s funny, because I don’t necessarily think about fashion in the sense of clothing. To me, it’s a world of key individuals who are using their time and talent for a good cause, pushing a narrative that is based on representation.
What kind of role does color play in your life?
It’s important, I believe that color has its own language. Color is utterly important to me. I believe that color is just like a language: it can be understood, misunderstood and even translated.
What’s the biggest difference in your opinion between the fashion scene in South Africa and in any major western countries?
I personally think that it’s all nuanced – we’re more alike than different. We all want to be seen and we all want to be heard.
From your perspective, how has South Africa’s fashion changed over the past decade?
The spirit of collaboration is what comes to my mind. For the longest time, the fashion industry had only ever represented designers as sole pioneers, however I believe that this paradigm might have shifted. Those that are part of the collective are being recognized for their integral roles and finesse that they’re bringing to the table. The spirit of collaboration is what comes to my mind. For the longest time, the fashion industry had only ever represented designers as sole pioneers, however I believe that this paradigm might have shifted. Those that are part of the collective are being recognized for their integral roles and for all of their finesse that they’re bringing to the table.
The African cultural heritage is one of the richest. What’s your personal take on African identity?
I’ve gently touched on this topic, but I believe that we are witnessing a renaissance within the creative industry where key individuals are using their time, talent and spaces to represent and preserve this spirit. This alone can be considered as a will to document our time now for those that will follow and witness in the years to come. You’re correct by stating that Africa has a rich cultural heritage, however there is so much of that heritage that has been lost. Our identity is intrinsic and deeply rooted within us, trying to unravel it in a simple sentence doesn’t quantify our spirit. I believe that we’re witnessing the renaissance of the creative industry as key individuals are using their time, talent and opportunities to present and preserve this world of ours. Yes, Africa has a rich cultural heritage, however sadly, a great deal of this heritage has been lost already. Our identity is intrinsic and deeply rooted within us, thus trying to unravel it by forcing it into a single sentence won’t unite our spirit.
Do you believe in the reinvention of traditions?
I think that the reinvention of traditions is something that is inevitable in any structure – time is the only thing constant and gradually, with time comes change. Reinventing traditions is something that is inevitable in any social, cultural structure. With time comes change and gradually, you can’t escape either of those.
What would you like people to feel when wearing your designs?
I would like them to feel like themselves more than anything else. If our label is able to provide pieces that allow one to find his honest self then I believe that we’re on the right trajectory. I hope that they can feel like the person they truly are. If our label is able to provide pieces to people allowing one to feel true to oneself, then I believe that we must be on the right trajectory.
What story do you tell with your fashion?
I hope more than anything else that people are able and willing to embrace the spirit of love & consideration. We believe in human beings and I don’t mean this in a weirdly romanticized way. I’m talking about being cognizant of the fact that we’re more alike than different. There is a level of compassion that comes with those that we work with: it’s our rhythm, it’s very steady, it’s honest and it’s sincere. Don’t get me wrong, following these ideals is not always an easy task as you have to face human complexities along the way. However, the aim is to use the medium of design and fashion as a means to practise these key qualities. Our story is a story of love & consideration. We believe in human beings. I’m not talking about that weird, romantic narrative, but about being cognizant of the fact that we’re more alike than different. There is a level of compassion coming from those that we work with. It’s very steady, it’s honest and sincere. It’s our rhythm. Don’t get me wrong, following these ideals is not always an easy task. We all have to face human complexities along the way; However the aim is to use the mediums of design and fashion as a means to practise these key qualities.
We all love inspiration. And we all could use a little splash of it right now. Where do you get your ideas from?
The creative process is only a practice: inspiration can essentially come from everything that I have mentioned above. Most importantly, from love & consideration. I’m trying to always surround myself with those that will enrich my life and I too hope that I can do the same to them. I’m keen to keep my intentions clear: leading by example and acting with purpose.
Models: @calib_willemse and @christi.saaiman MUA: @lusetibeauty
Stylist Assistant: @roq_africa
Trainers and Sandals: @camper