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FASHION

8 Black-Owned South African Luxury Brands To Get Behind

These brands are redefining luxury

BY Rufaro Samanga

Jan 19, 2021, 07:29 PM

For years, luxury has been defined by the West, and narrowly so, with very little acknowledgement of the trends within the Black community that have underpinned that same luxury. But that is changing...

Admittedly, luxury has often meant exclusion as it pertains to Black people. However, the tide is finally turning with Black people across the world acquiring the proverbial seats at the table and not only contributing to what we’ve come to know as luxury but beginning to redefine it through ownership. 

Black South Africans are certainly no different and in recent times, we’ve seen a number of Black-owned luxury brands gaining popularity and backing from the public in South Africa. And while luxury is usually associated with high fashion and its visibility, we’ve included a variety of Black-owned luxury brands to get behind. From design to jewelry and hair to style, get ready to familiarise yourself with these brands.

Maxhosa Africa

Who can forget the time that social media was aflame with debate as to the prices of Maxhosa items? Some argued that the brand was “too expensive” while others quite happily accepted that they simply weren’t the target market and kept it moving. Maxhosa is a contemporary knitwear brand established in 2012 by Laduma Ngxokolo who wanted to celebrate Xhosa heritage and aesthetics in a refreshing way. Whether it’s a midi skirt, a cable knit sweater, or even just a pair of socks, Maxhosa’s designs have won the hearts (and pockets) of the style set. 

Rich Mnisi

“Everything from Rich Mnisi is 2 million.” This was a hilarious sentiment shared by South African media personality, Bonang Matheba, an avid fan of the designer’s work on her hit reality television show, Being Bonang.

Innovative design, rich textures, and bold colours are the epitome of Rich Mnisi’s clothing and his signature sweaters have become staples in every fashionista’s wardrobe. The eponymous clothing brand was established in 2014 with the intention of creating an “aesthetic that brings worlds of artistic imagination together”.
Prices range from R800 to R32 000.
Rich Mnisi

House of BNG

When South Africa’s media personality and entrepreneur, Bonang Matheba, launched her own sparkling wine in 2019, even she didn’t expect the level of resounding support she received from South Africans.

The House of BNG, which Matheba dubbed her “Love letter to Africa”, is the first Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) wine to ever be produced by a Black woman in South Africa. Initially offered as a Brut and Rosé, the luxury beverage brand recently launched its pricier Prestige Reserve along with an affordable Nectar Blanc, South Africa’s first sparkling wine in a can. 
Prices range from R200 to R800.
House of BNG founder Bonang Matheba

Nungu Diamonds

One can’t speak about luxury without mentioning precious stones and jewels, not least diamonds. Founded by Kealeboga and Ursula Pule in 2013, Nungu Diamonds is a Black-owned bespoke diamond jeweller and retailer that seeks to decolonise African luxury and in their words, “[refocus] the diamond consumer back to the reason ‘why’ we have diamonds; the source of each diamond’s origin, the diamond’s provenance.”

Boasting clients such as actress Connie Ferguson, power couple Dineo and Zothile Langa, tailored suit designer Linda Makhanya and more, Nungu Diamonds has certainly created an alternative experience for Black people whose options have only ever been American Swiss, Browns and the like. 
Prices range from R6000 to R343 000.
Nungo Diamonds

TSHEPO

Everyone loves a tale of humble beginnings and the story behind TSHEPO is certainly that. Born in Lyndeburg, Johannesburg, Tshepo Mohlala took a chance on himself with a small loan and a big dream to create luxury denim clothing items. While he was initially ridiculed on social media with several people grumbling over the price of jeans tagged TSHEPO instead of Diesel or Levis, Mohlala’s stunning and unique design work has landed him noteworthy clients including rapper Cassper Nyovest and even the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. 

Nelson Makamo

Nelson Makamo is undeniably South Africa’s golden child. The artist, whose ethereal paintings and drawings of children have been snatched up by the likes of billionaire television personality Oprah Winfrey and filmmaker Ava Duvernay, has graced the cover of TIME magazine in addition to numerous awards. The Limpopo-born artist is testament to the exquisite Black talent not only in South Africa but the world over. And while Makamo himself may not be a conventional “luxury brand”, when your art is selling at upwards of R200 000 apiece, that’s luxury– - fullstop. 
Prices range from R7000 to R275 000.
Nelson Makamo for TIME

Thebe Magugu

Thebe Magugu has been securing international award after international award. From winning the coveted 2019 LVMH prize to becoming one of six finalists in the prestigious 2021 International Woolmark Prize, it’s no surprise that Magugu’s work in the fashion industry continues to mesmerise both South Africans and the international community alike. 

From ready-to-wear items to imaginative capsule collections, Magugu’s luxurious designs reveal the intricacies of the continent's “storied past, complex present and exciting imagined futures”. 
Prices range from R7000 to R275 000.
Collection 3: Thebe Magugu

Ubuhle Handmade

There is no such thing as a bad hair day with Ubuhle Handmade. Established by Landiwe Zakwe after she left her day job in 2015, the luxury hair brand produces seamless custom wigs and hair extensions which have been adorned by the likes of Bonang Matheba. From high definition Swiss lace in frontal wigs to the highest quality human hair, Ubuhle Handmade’s wigs are certainly worth the price tag and a solid investment for anyone wanting to always have their hair on point. 
Prices range from R1900 to R9000.

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