African Designers among Competitors for the LVMH Prize

African Designers among Competitors for the LVMH Prize

LVMH Prize, two Africans rising designers, Thebe Mahugu and Kenneth Ize have been selected among other top fashion designers in the world for this ye

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LVMH Prize, two Africans rising designers, Thebe Mahugu and Kenneth Ize have been selected among other top fashion designers in the world for this year’s Louis Vuitton Awards.

This year’s awards was more diverse than previous years in the sense that the process of selection took cognizance of the diversity in the fashion industry.

LVMH Prize

The LVMH Prize was created support young fashion designers globally in November 2013 by Daphne Arnault, the executive vice president of Louis Vuitton and every year designers are selected to compete for the prize of a lifetime.

For the first time in the history of the awards designers from Israel, Nigeria, and South Africa will be competing.

Speaking about this new direction to Vogue magazine, Daphne said “Each new edition brings its lot of firsts. It goes to show the reach of the Prize on the one hand, and on the other, the reach of fashion, its ability to touch more and more people, thanks in part to the Internet. It is truly a unifying dynamic. This year we received more than 1,700 applications, a record.

Most of [the finalists] have integrated up-cycling in their sourcing strategy. First and foremost, [of course,] we appraise the creativity of the candidates. Naturally, if it is combined with an ethical and environmental awareness at the service of creation, then so much the better.”

The iconic competition is open to designers from all over the world who have produced at least two collections and who are under 40 years of age. In order to give them a chance to fully explore their creative range, the prize gives the winners a grant of 300,000 euros and support from members of the LVMH group for a year. This support covers all there is to know about running a fashion brand including intellectual property, sourcing, production and distribution, image and marketing. It is quite possibly the most valuable and coveted prize in fashion and has launched many a career in the past.

Nigerian born Kenneth Ize launched his eponymous label in 2013, straight after graduating from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. It was a risky move for the fairly new designer but it was one that paid off as his label was an instant hit due to his successful marriage of the traditional and the current. His use of aso-oke and adire is inspired and has inspired many designers to follow suit and explore materials pertinent to Nigeria’s rich cultural history.

The Kenneth Ize brand takes a sustainable approach to the design by using locally-sourced materials locally and ensuring a fair and safe working space for all workers and artisans, one that encourages collaboration and births magic

Thebe Magugu is the eponymous label from a young, contemporary South African designer born and raised in Kimberley, SA.

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On his Instagram, Thebe wrote a heartfelt message thanking the LVMH group for including him in the shortlist:

I am so honoured to be selected as one of the Top 8 Finalists for the @lvmhprize and to be part of such a monumental initiative by @lvmh.

Creating clothes with cultural significance, exploring social issues, sharing stories from my country, empowering those I can, and making beautiful yet functional clothes women want to wear has been a checklist I continually hold the brand to, and getting to share that with the world – through @thebemagugu and @facultypress – has been the biggest driving force.

Thebe admits that his love for fashion was inspired by the brilliant women who played a crucial part in his upbringing and introduced him to the magic of clothes. As a result, his label focuses primarily on women’s ready to wear and accessories.

Thebe studied Fashion & Apparel Design at Lysol Fashion School in Johannesburg and since graduating, his work has become an integral part of the way South African’s view modern design. Always one to make a statement, Thebe uses his clothes to explore themes of gender disparity, race and tradition.