Lukhanyo Mdingi grew up in the small coastal town of East London in South Africa. In 2011 he relocated to Cape Town to pursue a degree in Fashion at the city’s Cape Peninsula University of Technology. A post-graduate year followed, where he graduated as the only student from Fashion Design. Lukhanyo loves mixing theoretical and practical approaches to fashion, and his motivation for doing it in the first place is pretty simple: ”It makes me happy, it’s instant and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” he explains over a broken Skype connection between Cape Town and London. ”I want to use fashion as a means to contribute to something much bigger and far beyond clothes.”
Lukhanyo represents a previously unseen type of menswear in South Africa, a country that according to him has a limited appreciation for male fashion. After having presented two complete womenswear collections after university (leading him to be a finalist at the ELLE Rising Star Design Award 2013), he began feeling naturally attracted to working menswear, and, more politically, felt a strong desire to ”empower menswear in the whole country.”
Despite its far-off geographic location from the usual hubs such as New York and Paris, Luhkanyo describes the fashion scene of Cape Town as diverse and active. “It’s such a different mix of so many different styles and so many different trends,” he says, explaining how the many tourists that annually pay the city a visit diversifies and blurs the fashion on the streets. “There are so many different cultures and backgrounds that are being mixed all the time, and people from around the world who are coming here – it sometimes gets a little tricky to distinguish who is who.” Similarly, he describes CPUT’s fashion department (led by Professor Annadine Vlok) as formative, tough and forward-thinking, with many international students and many graduates continuing to study further overseas.
”I WANT TO USE FASHION AS A MEANS TO CONTRIBUTE TO SOMETHING MUCH BIGGER AND FAR BEYOND CLOTHES.”