Rich Mnisi, Creative Director of budding fashion label OATH, is quickly becoming an advocate for men’s fashion in South Africa. Having recently shown both men’s and women’s wear lines, the label is slowly finding its feet in the tumultuous industry that is fashion. He refers to OATH as a “garage band brand”, with his actual garage serving as his atelier and his bedroom as his creative headquarters. He may be on lead vocals and guitar but it is no one-man band, with Shane Childs as the Business Director and Vusi Mahlangu as the Communications Director.
While chatting to him about men’s fashion in South Africa, his optimism with the marketplace was apparent. “We want the fashion industry to be a bit more integrity based and place passion at the forefront of what people consider important in this industry”.
He explains that masculinity can be restricting and that’s what has held back the growth of men’s fashion in this country. Nevertheless he is positive despite our laggard status as consumers, with the help of new platforms like the recent SA Menswear Fashion week in Cape Town, he comments that “it’s definitely evolving thus it shouldn’t be much of a problem for too long”.
OATH recently showed at AFI Mercedes Benz fashion week and prior to that they debuted an all menswear collection at SA Menswear Fashion week. Mnisi explained that the collection caters for a man who “lives an interesting life, he’s alternative but he also wants a level of tradition”. OATH’s latest menswear collection saw a deviation from the usual high energy sports-luxe look. The collection seemed more mature but still edgy with the contrast of textural prints and deep planar neutrals.
The OATH man can “take his silk pyjama shirt into the boardroom paired with a tailored jacket”. Describing OATH as “progressive”, Mnisi can help shift the landscape of men’s fashion. Never mind feminism – what about the iron-clad male stereotypes that cling to the South African male population? Fashion is not exclusive to women, there is a budding market for the new generation males, who enjoy and appreciate the art of dressing-up for no other reason than to please themselves. This is the OATH model, a man who is comfortable enough with himself to experiment with his clothing choices, not caring what others think.
Rich Mnisi’s top tip for men this season is outerwear; jackets, coats and lots of layering! “Next Season will definitely be based on excess” he advises.