Chu Suwannapha: Tradition is the new black

The “prince of prints”, Chu Suwannapha, has made reinventing tradition a core part of his new fashion label.

 “My collection is all about celebrating Africa,” says Chu Suwannapha, who is originally from Thailand but has chosen to make South Africa his home. “That’s the reason why I’m doing it.”

Suwannapha’s first collection under his new label, Chulaap, is inspired by local South African street style. He presented the print-heavy unisex range during Design Indaba Expo 2015.

“If you look at Chulaap, you can see the outfit or the jacket in Woodstock or Maboneng – I mean anywhere in South Africa.”

That’s not to say that Suwannapha’s designs aren’t unique, but rather that he is championing a movement among South African designers to look local and specifically to use locally print fabrics. Known for wearing daring prints himself, Suwannapha is changing the perception of pattern: “The way I use ethnic fabric or ethnic print, I make it cool not traditional.”

Chulaap also presented a number of collaborations: with hat designer Dean Pozniak from Simon and Mary, sock designer Sibusiso Ngwenya from Skinny Sbu and accessories designer Erika Fourie of Rings and Things