AFRICAN FASHION INTERNATIONAL (AFI) last night saw their top four 2015 AFI Fastrack™ finalists showcase the best of their collections in a battle for the pristine title of AFI Young Designer of the Year 2015. A year of extensive curation, judging and mentoring, AFI Fastrack™ 2015 pinnacled this fashion finale with Nthabiseng Molefe, Armand Dicker, Thebe Magugu and Martelle Ludik who each showed 8of their best looks.

The inspiration to Thebe’s collection was A Social Science and themed on contemporary women’s ready to wear.

In his words “Anyone with a history in South African social sciences will tell you that we are a hard people to decode, simply because there is so much to us. As much as the effects of a turbulent past & the fear of an unpredictable future has made us conservative & highly superstitious our ability to re-invent & re purpose both ourselves & objects around us speaks of the inherent creativity forged by our need to cope & survive. Picking up socio-political cues from the streets & its people, I used the idea of re-contextualisation to imagine the new South African woman – a hodgepodge of past & future, female & male, tradition & freethinking – who has been given an opportunity to start afresh with what she has already been given”
Martelle Ludik’s collection revolved round the idea of unrequited love and somewhere along the line embracing the rejection.

Stating “You get lost in the beautiful sadness but ultimately become angered by choosing to remain in the situation you created yourself” said. Once you decide to emotionally distance yourself though, the idea of losing him becomes easier to cope with than realizing you’ve actually lost you” said Martelle in describing his collection.

The audience got to see a streetwear look with sporty elements combined with a more playful dark undertone. In his words, always trying to keep a rebellious and angry state within a collection, Martelle’s collection showcased exactly that.

Nthabiseng’s collection titled kaleidoscopic elements, with reference to a traditional kaleidoscope left audience with an array of creative expression. Pattern pieces were developed from inspiration of designs seen through a kaleidoscope.

The whole idea was to create a sense of pieces combined together, without distracting from the original silhouette of the garments. The silhouettes were both structured and soft, and kept simple. The fabrics were black and white with hypnotic prints. That made the collection lean towards a pop art drawing inspiration from the 60s. It was a quirky collection with a bit of asymmetrical elements expressing a minimal take on a traditional vivid kaleidoscope.

And finally Armand Dicker’s high-end luxury menswear brand played with expressions of creative living in urban spaces with genderless contexts. Playing with natural textiles of the highest standard, the collection reflected mohair and leather creative pieces ideal for the new age urban retro male.

“This year’s AFI Fastrack™ finalists were testament to the fact that the fashion design talent coming out of South Africa is of the highest caliber and with a fresh and innovative approach to creative expression. The 2015 contestants were outstanding and African Fashion International (AFI) is proud to provide a platform for these young designers,” says Sizwe Nzimande, Group Marketing Manager for AFI. The Judges were tasked with a difficult and enviable task to shortlist talent and to experience new fashion innovation at its highest.

The competition was tight but it was Nthabiseng Molefe who walked away with Young Designer of the Year title for 2015, a cash investment of R30 000 and an entry into the next step of AFI’s acceleration program being AFI Next Generation – a program that allows AFI Fastrack™ Alumni and overall winner showcase on its platform in 2016.

This is the first step towards guiding and growing fresh fashion design talent into sustainable business and established brands on the continent and globally. “AFI remains deep rooted in it belief that the Continent is gearing towards international impact on the fashion scene and this evenings exhibition of creative zest in collections showcase is testament to that belief” says Sizwe Nzimande.
Images of the AFI Fastrack™ 2015 collections will be available on

AFI opens AFI Fastrack™ 2016 applications to entry at the end of 2016. We anticipate, as has been the case over the last five years from inception of this accelerator program, to receive hundreds of entries nationally. Committed to accelerating, development, growing and sustaining creative talent, AFI looks forward to selecting the next group of AFI Fastrack™ 2016 entrants.

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