by Stephen Garner
Thebe Magugu / Photo by Aart Verrips

Thebe Magugu has been named the next Guest Designer of Pitti Uomo 100, taking place in Florence from June 30th – July 2nd. The South African designer will be presenting a special menswear collection of the brand that bears his name with a special event inside a dedicated location in the Fortezza da Basso.

Magugu, 27, lives in Johannesburg but was born in Kimberley, a small mining town in South Africa. He grew up in a family consisting of three generations of women and defines his clothing as a constant ode to women, “strong, extremely independent-thinking women”. Inspired by a multidisciplinary culture, Magugu studied Fashion design, fashion photography, and fashion media, subjects that play an important role in his storytelling. After a number of internships and fashion collaborations, he launched his own name brand in 2016. Right from the start, the brand was based on the concept of education, the desire to inform about stories and trades. Each collection is ideally inspired by university subjects such as geology, home economics, gender studies, African studies, and, more recently, prosopography.  An important aspect for the poetics of a brand that offers itself as a resource and proposal not just for functional clothing suitable for the everyday life of women but also garments that are capable of telling a story about their origins.

Magugu was the winner of the British Fashion Council’s International Fashion Showcase 2019 and the 2019 LVMH Prize. He has also launched Faculty Press, a magazine that celebrates people, moments, and key ideas originating from South African and African youth culture.

“Thebe Magugu won us over immediately, ever since we began following his career,” said Lapo Cianchi, Pitti Immagine’s communication & special events director, “as a result of the freshness of his multicultural and multidisciplinary creativity, and, at the same time, due to the naturalness with which the ethical and social commitment of his collections emerges. Thebe creates a fashion that is continually suspended between art and craftsmanship, education, and ancestral practices. We felt that his work was perfect for extending an invitation, in an unconventional way, to a new beginning that is rich in young, energetic awareness.”

“I am incredibly proud to be this season’s guest designer for the special anniversary edition of Pitti Uomo by presenting our first menswear capsule,” added Magugu. “I have immense respect for the fair’s commitment to heritage and tradition through the ever-expanding lens of the new, which is what we at Thebe Magugu wholeheartedly believe in. Fashion is an incredibly intelligent industry, with an ability to transport, inform and inspire audiences and, through Pitti, we plan on continuing our commitment to sharing our history and culture through honest and thoughtful clothes.”

Pitti also revealed its theme for the upcoming summer fair season. Dubbed “Pitti 100,” the show tapped multifaceted graphic design Francesco Dondina for the new ad campaign and Fortezza da Basso installation.

“100 is a strong, important, round, and promising number,” said Agostino Poletto, general manager of Pitti Immagine. “It is undoubtedly an end, but – if it is read backwards, 001 – it becomes the symbol of a new beginning. Right from the start, it appeared to us as a great opportunity for expressing the mood with which we design and organize our summer shows, which have now finally returned to a physical format.”

“I immediately fell in love with this project because I saw a playful and open attitude in it,” added Dondina. “100 is an expressive and positive number, inviting you to look forward.”