Thebe Magugu / Spring/Summer 2022 / Pitti Uomo, Florence, Italy
2019 LVMH prize winner Thebe Magugu follows in the venerable footsteps of previous Pitti guest designers such as Telfar, Craig Green, Sterling Ruby, and Y/Project. Like those who came before, the South African certainly didn't miss his chance to make a splash.
Titled "DOUBLETHINK" — a reference to George Orwell's 1984 novel, Magugu's first menswear collection explores corruption in his home continent and the whistleblowers who challenge it. “Whistleblowers are not celebrated or cast as heroic characters. Instead, they are largely treated as insubordinate, pariahs or troublemakers, wearing the scarlet letter W and unable to find employment," explained Magugu. "I have chosen to shine a light on the plight of whistleblowers in South Africa, in the hope to advocate for a change in legislation, organizational support, and a change in social attitude."
As well as Orwell, Mandy Wiener’s book, “The Whistleblowers,” was a vital instrument in shaping the project. It's powerful stuff from a designer who possesses a canny knack at turning big ideas into wonderful clothing.
In many ways, the societal ills the continent wrestles with stem from the insidious actions of its leaders. In South Africa, we have regularised the daily tales of missing millions and economy-controlling families. These stories become dinner-time anecdotes, which minimizes the devastating ramifications that corruption holds - from increased gaps in education and equality to the mismanagement of public goods and service, which often always morphs into violence. Corruption is a global issue, which defeats the ends of justice and deters a country’s sense of safety and trust. However, some strong individuals have said ‘enough!’ - the brave women and men who have come forward as whistleblowers, who have exposed the level of rot from companies and institutions both private and state.
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