Run(a)way success: Lukhanyo Mdingi

Former Design Indaba Emerging Creative Lukhanyo Mdingi is competing on the international luxury stage.

With three South Africans having been acknowledged by the LVMH Prize for Young Designers in the last three years. Local design is on an upward trajectory and rightly competing on the international luxury stage. The LVMH Prize for Young Designers an annual award and mentorship programme bestowed by family-controlled luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton that recognizes excellence in fashion. 

This year, rising star and former Design Indaba Emerging Creative Lukhanyo Mdingi is one of 20 global semi-finalists who presented their creations via a COVID-friendly digital showroom from 6-11 April 2021. With the public joining a panel of around 70 experts to choose the eight who will go on to be finalists, and a winner only to be decided later in the year, the outcome is yet to be determined. But this recognition certainly solidifies the designer’s standing on the fashion scene. 

We chatted to him about creating a positive legacy in fashion, and what this nomination means to him.  

What does the recognition by the LVMH Prize mean to you? How important is it that African and South African design is recognised by international luxury brands?

It’s no secret that the LVMH Prize is a powerful platform that propels designers into a large pool of industry players – something that is hard to do without this launching pad. With the kind of visibility and exposure that the prize cements for each participating designer/label, it allows you to become recognized by a much broader audience.

What drew you to serve on the jury of the True Fashion, Try on Green project – what is it and how does this ethos align with your vision as a designer?

True Fashion, Try on Green is a sustainable development inititative driven by the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) and the Goethe Institut. It mentors young designers in South Africa, with the aim of rethinking the fashion industry, in the context of its impact on the climate and the challenges raised by fast fashion.  

We have always believed that the power of a collective is far greater than that of the individual, and considered design and a spirit of collaboration are traits our label is known for. So, having the opportunity – thanks to IFAS and the Goethe Institut - to embark on this important project and use our experience in service of the industry, is the ultimate privilege. Our aim is to add to this paradigm by teaching and informing those within our industry about the lessons we’ve learnt on our own journey. 

What principles have you instilled in your brand in order to steer away from 'fast fashion'? 

The essence of our label is based on considered and mindful design – working with this mindset and collaborating with those that share this philosophy has allowed us to steadily counter the discordant pace that the industry is moving at. 

Tell me a bit about what inspired your latest range - the COUTTS Collection - and what you want to communicate through the garments?

The premise of the COUTTS Collection is a celebration of the legacy of designer Nicholas Coutts. We wanted to use our shared medium of design to celebrate him in the best way that we knew how. Nick had an honesty in his pieces - he created his own textiles with his hands, an approach to design that I believe is the highest form of truth, especially when it’s driven by purpose, intention and love. This is the essence of the Nicholas Coutts label as well as him as a person, and we are incredibly grateful to his family for allowing us to make this tribute.

Image credit: Luke Houba