Ahead of London Fashion Week on 15-19 February 2019, we asked designers taking part in our international residencies what their home town can teach their industry.
Kimberley, South Africa – Thebe Magugu
From Kimberley, my home town, I think the fashion world can learn that we can build something from limited resources.
I used to hate the PVC (polyvinyl chloride) cloth we used to cover kitchen tables. The print was often a lattice with a flower or fruit motif, which I found tacky. Now, I appreciate the print and used it as inspiration for a coat, modelled on the kitchen table cloth print, for my collection 'Home Economics'.
I photographed a shoot in Kimberley recently for my zine, which included the family and friends I grew up with wearing pieces from my collection. The series is called 'Kimberley Calling'. My neighbour, Tshidi Makoti, wore a bright yellow floral coat from my 'Art History' collection because it matches her personality. She is one of the most optimistic people I know.
Pondicherry, India – Naushad Ali
In India, saris are usually passed on to the next generation. The special ones, like the ones for weddings, are saved for the next generation. Everyday saris are cotton, and after many washes they become extremely soft. The touch, smell and feel of the fabric becomes familiar to babies, and there is a practice of quilting old saris together to create a baby blanket.
Taking from nature and giving back to her in a harmonious cycle is a daily ritual in my home town, Pondicherry. Our daughters wear our mother’s saris and wrap their babies in blankets made from the same saris.
Beirut, Lebanon – Roni Helou
Serwal are traditional trousers worn by men, still worn by and strongly associated with the Druze community in Lebanon. Modernised versions of serwal have become trendy among Lebanese people from all religions, which you can see in my home town of Beirut.
In Lebanon, we have 18 officially recognised religious groups. After 30 years of civil war, we are learning to co-exist and realising that the uniqueness and richness of our country is in its diversity, and the imperfections that we have accumulated throughout our history.
Gishoma, Rwanda – Cedric Mizero
In my home village, Gishoma, we embrace everyday rhythm, variation and beauty by giving objects new functions, and using traditional crafts in modern life.
In my collections, I recycle objects like banana leaves, bamboo and tin. I get inspiration from everyday objects and from discussing art and fashion with people in local villages.
In Gishoma, the rhythm of water dripping from the roof tells us that the rain is over and we can resume our work. Our shared lives and routines make a kind of patchwork. This pattern relies on artisanal skills.
Bangladesh – Rahemur Rahman
I'm from London, and my family come from Bangladesh. Bangladesh is known around the world for its ready-made garment industry, but I think people know less about the skill and labour that go into our heritage textiles. Skills including weaving textiles by hand and embroidery are handed down through generations, for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years.
Nakshi kantha is a type of embroidered quilt, traditionally made from old sarees, lungis and dhotis. Kantha-making is not a full-time job. Women in almost every household are experts in the art. Rural people work at leisure time or during the rainy season, so it can take months or even years to finish a kantha.
For the autumn/winter 2019 season I wanted to use this embroidery technique on naturally dyed silk and cotton shirts, and make a heritage craft more modern through design. From these traditions the fashion world can learn how to pay attention to the finer details of what they wear, how and where our clothes are made, and by who.
The International Fashion Showcase is a programme for 16 emerging international designers, and includes a London residency. You can see the designers' work during London Fashion Week on 11-24 February 2019 at Somerset House, London.
Thebe Magugu is the winning designer of International Fashion Showcase 2019.