Rich Mnisi on building a fresh fashion brand in South Africa

South African designer Rich Mnisi shares his creative journey (catwalk included) as part of the Global Graduates selection at Design Indaba Conference 2016.

Young South African fashion designer Rich Mnisi used his Design Indaba Conference 2016 to share a little bit of his creative journey, through his first brand Oath to his current eponymous label. His talk then morphed into a catwalk, where Mnisi showed off his “second album”: his latest androgynous, Zulu-inspired menswear range.

Mnisi’s love for fashion is rooted in his childhood memories: watching his sister crown herself with feathers and noticing how his communtiy used garments to celebrate every occasion – weddings, funerals and parties. He graduated from the Leaders in the Science of Fashion and after struggling with the fear of failure, he launched himself into the fashion world. 

“I thought ‘oh my gosh Rich, you can’t be a fashion designer – it’s crazy’,” says Mnisi. “But then I got over it, I covered my eyes and I entered this competition [called] AFI,” says Mnisi.

10 months later Mnisi was named Africa Fashion International (AFI) Young Designer of the Year in 2014. This inspired him to launch his brand Oath, and later that year he was selected for the Design Indaba Emerging Creatives programme 2015.

During the time that Mnisi was creating under the brand Oath he collaborated with many other local creatives and got a good sense of his own aesthetic and style. Changing the name of the brand from Oath to RICH MNISI at the end of 2015 was Mnisi’s biggest step towards becoming a more confident designer and getting to understand his own style and the personality of his brand.

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