Thebe Magugu RTW Fall 2023

Thebe Magugu’s fall collection was all about storytelling. The lineup was inspired by African folktales, many with a spooky twist.

A 19th-century print of a shipwreck — a reference to mermaids steering sailors to their doom — was used as an allover motif on items including a pajama blouse and pants. Handwritten African proverbs adorned the hem of one of his signature pleated skirts, while the spectral figure on the back of a pink coat evoked the Pinky Pinky monster of South African lore.


The designer worked a variety of silhouettes, from a formfitting knit dress with anatomical details to a lemon crepe caftan with smocking details. “It’s proportions that go away from the body to allow for whatever print or material to really shine through,” he said at the Sphere trade show in Paris.

Magugu is preparing to relaunch his e-commerce site in April. International shipments will be handled out of France, instead of South Africa previously, to reduce shipping costs. Likewise, as of last season he’s split production between his home base, Madagascar and Italy due to the ongoing energy crisis in South Africa.

“I realize the world at large doesn’t really know about it, but we only have five hours of electricity a day right now, and that’s no place to produce or work,” the Johannesburg, South Africa-based designer said. “I’m much happier and my retailers are much happier because I stick to my delivery times whereas in the past, I couldn’t control if the electricity goes off.”

Though circumstances have thwarted Magugu’s ambition of keeping manufacturing domestic, the collection was faithful to his distinctive point of view, and provided a nice balance between structure and softness.

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