Last week, H&M premiered their collaboration with Moschino (pronounced mo-ski-no) at a launch party in Sandton, Johannesburg. Prices range from between R300 to R4,600 for accessories, shoes, and apparel. From a price point of view, this isn’t a terrible deal; especially when considering the Moschino label sells items from $60 to the mid-upper thousand dollars.
At the same time, “we [South Africans] have local designers to support.”
I saw this quote on Nwabisa Mda’s Instagram story. The Pap Culture member is known for her engaging Instagram stories, both informative and entertaining. When she shared the quote, I couldn’t help but concur. From a brand point of view, I won’t be caught handing over large amounts of my hard earned money to H&M for a mass produced designer collection. There are a few reasons why, but the long and short of it is that I don’t believe in either brands enough to snub some of my favorite South African designers in the process.
Moschino x H&M, a fast fashion designer collaboration
H&M is not the first to take on a designer collaboration, and they certainly won’t be the last. I first noticed collaborations like their’s in the early 2010s. Department stores had found another way to keep the doors open, if only for a little while. This resulted in big labels mass producing cheaper collections as part of an exclusive collection for a particular brand/store. I came to own a favorite dress of mine by way of the Target x Neiman Marcus collaboration with Robert Rodriguez, with special thanks to my Aunt Maurissa, in this way. While living in the United States, the combination of a strong dollar, well designed garments, and my limited understanding of the politics of fashion made this gift a prized possession.
Living in South Africa, an understanding of money and a developed sense of social justice make buying into the certain designer-fast fashion collaborations difficult. For example, the Moschino and H&M collaboration is designed by Jeremy Scott, the same man accused of stealing designs on various occasions. Not to mention, I am still disappointed in H&M after their “Coolest Monkey Of The Jungle” photo-op fiasco. Then to top all of the above, brands like H&M are known for their terrible workers’ rights violations through the production of their garments in sweatshops. Call it petty, but I’m honestly no longer in the mood for racism and disenfranchisement from H&M.
Paying attention to South African designers
For the price of the designs H&M is offering, I would much prefer to buy from South African designers. This way, I know to whom my money is going, and what that represents/means in an industry where creativity is difficult to monetize. For instance, Woolworths’s Style By SA collection features pieces from the likes of Wanda Lephoto and Thebe Magugu; two designers making notable contributions to the local fashion industry. Bonang Matheba jokingly said that getting anything by Rich Mnisi requires “R2 million”; but through his collaboration with Woolworths, more than just the rich can wear and support his work.
Outside of collaborations, South African designers are noteworthy on their own. Take Siyethemba Duma of Matte Nolim for example, the designer who captured my attention at the Fall 2018 AFI Cape Town Fashion Week. He sent Rwandan model, Happy Jacqueline Umurerwa down the runway in the ‘Fanny Frill Skirr Skirt’, and my closet dreams haven’t had peace ever since. Thabo Makheta is another example of local designer brilliance, with her Basotho blanket inspired designs bringing luxury and culture to my wardrobe.
When it comes to where I intend to spend my money, I can’t honestly say that Moschino has my heart or my purse strings. More so, I doubt they ever will; at least not during Jeremy Scott’s reign. Nwabisa put it best when she said “we have local designers to support,” and I couldn’t agree more.