Joburg Itinerary: 10 designer labels that you need to know

more than a year ago

Johannesburg is where style meets sophistication and creativity knows no bounds. It's a city where fashion enthusiasts are spoilt for choice with an array of designers and brands that embody the unique spirit of the place, as easily at home in streetwear, elegant day wear or couture. 

Navigating the city's fashion landscape can be overwhelming, but our list of 10 designers and brands that you need to know will cut right to the point. From reimagined clothing with urban flair to elaborate, avant-garde creations, and not forgetting designers making us proud across the globe, here's 10 of our favourite local fashion labels.  

Boys of Soweto

Designer, Bob Ndima, with his creations at 99 Juta. Photo: 99 Juta via Instagram. 

This denim and knitwear brand co-founded by Bob Ndima, a.k.a 'Bob the stylist', has fast become a must-have label. You'll spot Boys of Soweto being worn across the city, from Hyde Park to Maboneng. The label encompasses bold, two-tone jersey-cardigans, pullovers and even polo-style shirts and dresses – with the brand name emblazoned across them as the signature look. Boys of Soweto also has a cooler-than-cool denim range. Take a trip to 99 Juta in Braamfontein, the city-centre design hub, to see what Boys of Soweto is all about. 

David Tlale

David Tlale's 'Spectacular Dress' with artwork by Jean Du Plessis. Photo: David Tlale via Instagram.

With a strong emphasis on elegance and sophistication, David Tlale consistently delivers collections that exude a unique blend of African heritage and contemporary aesthetics. Each garment is meticulously crafted with exquisite attention to detail, utilising premium materials and impeccable tailoring techniques to ensure a perfect fit and a luxurious feel.

Tlale has gained a reputation for his artistry and dedication to creating garments of exceptional quality. The brand's distinctive style and bold use of colour and textures make every piece a statement of individuality. From stunning evening gowns to impeccably tailored suits, Tlale offers a diverse range of high-end fashion options online and at his studio by appointment only. His stores can be found in Melrose Arch, Menlyn Shopping Centre, and Riboville Boutique Hotel in upmarket Waterfall. 

Floyd Avenue Apparel

Floyd Avenue S/S 2023 SA Fashion Week. Photo: LR Photography via SA Fashion Week. 

Morapedi Floyd Manotoana is a fashion maven who has been wowing us since he started a trend in Joburg more than a decade ago by introducing a rabbi's hat to the city's most stylish. Renowned for its innovative and androgynous-inspired, high-fashion streetwear, Floyd Avenue Apparel, his label, is located at the Creative Uprising Hub (at Transwerke) at Constitution Hill.

With a focus on impeccable tailoring and cultural references, Floyd Avenue offers a unique blend of timeless cool and contemporary style that transcends trendiness. The brand is committed to ethical and sustainable practices and takes pride in transforming unwanted fabrics into superb and highly wearable pieces, showcasing the ability to transform unexpected items into fashion gold. This dedication to sustainability has earned Floyd Avenue a reputation as a conscious fashion brand. Find Floyd Avenue Apparel at Creative Uprising Hub (at Transwerke), Constitution Hill.

Guillotine – with Pichulik, L'Mad scarves and Romario

L'Mad Collection x Cinthia Sifa Mulanga. Photo: Cinthia Sifa Mulanga via Instagram. 

Designer Lisa Jaffe's Guillotine boutique at 44 Stanley in Milpark is a treasure trove of beautiful South African labels, including her own form-fitting fashion staples. Among the accompanying labels at this elegant boutique are Cape Town accessories and jewellery brand Pichulik. The creation of Katherine-Mary Pichulik, the label's bold statement neckpieces, bracelets and earrings are made from coloured ropes and metal or jewelled fittings that can include found materials such as fossilised pieces from Niger, West African brass, Ghanaian agate and recycled glass from Ethiopia. This distinctive jewellery, rooted in Africa, was last spotted on J-Lo. At Guillotine you can also find the Latitudes x L'Mad range of luxurious, limited-edition silk 'art scarves' made in collaboration with local, contemporary artists, and Carla Pinto and Zydia Botes's beautiful lifestyle knitwear label Romaria. Find the Guillotine Boutique at 44 Stanley.

Kirsten Goss

Anastasia earrings by Kirsten Goss. Photo: Kirsten Goss via Instagram. 

This renowned jewellery designer's exquisite creations reflect a perfect harmony between artistry and elegance. While Goss is Durban-born, she moves between cities with ease, and her jewel-like store in Hyde Park Corner is a must-visit. With an unwavering passion for craftsmanship and a distinct eye for detail, Kirsten Goss has established herself as a prominent name in the world of contemporary jewellery.

Her designs embody a unique fusion of modern aesthetics and timeless sophistication. From delicate necklaces and statement rings to captivating earrings and striking bracelets, Goss's creations effortlessly captivate the imagination and become cherished heirlooms for those who wear them. With each piece meticulously crafted and imbued with a touch of her artistic genius, Goss continues to redefine the boundaries of jewellery design. We also love her sense of style and how she dresses. Find Kirsten Goss's store at Hyde Park Corner. 

Marigold Beads

Colourful designs by Marigold Beads. Photo: Marigold Beads via Instagram. 

Hand-loomed in Zimbabwe by women’s co-operative Marigold via a collaboration with Johannesburg-based artist Joni Brenner, Marigold Beads are covetable and highly collectable. These beads take shape in the most glorious colours and patterns, and are as much jewellery as they are wearable artworks. To produce one necklace takes up to three days of careful and considered labour, making these pieces truly artisanal and bespoke. 

It was a single commission by Zimbabwe-born Brenner in 2011, for a set of three beaded necklaces of her own, that led to the creation of a partnership that has seen hundreds of these intricately beaded strands find their way to South Africa, and across oceans. Each necklace is a marvel of colour, geometry and masterful, even tension. The symmetry of uniformly shaped seed beads (sourced from the Czech Republic and as far as Japan) is as satisfying to the touch of the wearer as it is to the eye of those who admire the pieces. New colour combinations and patterning are continually introduced, and inexplicably one necklace demands a companion, and then another. Marigold Beads has occasional pop-up shops in Joburg, otherwise contact them (by appoinment only via their website).

Maxhosa Africa

Maxhosa's S/S 2019 collection 'CULTURE'. Photo: Maxhosa via Instagram. 

Founded by Laduma Ngxokolo as a heritage brand, when Ngxokolo was inspired to create clothing designed and made locally for Xhosa initiates whose passage to adulthood requires a first set of 'smart wear'. As a student, Ngxokolo was struck by how the only option for young men in the Eastern Cape was to buy imported clothing.

Maxhosa Africa has gained international acclaim for the brand's unique fusion of traditional Xhosa aesthetics with contemporary fashion. Drawing inspiration from the rich cultural heritage of South Africa, Maxhosa creates captivating knitwear and accessories that showcase intricate patterns, vibrant colours and timeless elegance, inspired by traditional beadwork patterns. Each piece is crafted by skilled artisans, combining traditional techniques with modern design sensibilities.

Maxhosa has become a lifestyle, a brand with a devoted and growing following who prize these pieces and the ethos that created them. Produced in Johannesburg's city centre, each Maxhosa garment is a statement, and you can now dress to match your home, with an incredible collection of rugs, cushion covers and other homeware and décor. Sustainability is at the heart of the label: the inclusion of ethical wool farming practices and ensuring not a scrap of fabric is wasted in the process of making these garments speaks to this. We had the privilege to visit the Maxhosa factory recently and were impressed by what we saw. Find the Maxhosa Africa store at the Mall of Africa in Midrand and V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, with plans for new brick-and-mortar stores beyond South Africa in the pipeline.

Rich Mnisi

Rich Mnisi x Smiley A/W 2023 collection: Photo: Rich Mnisi. 

Born in Kempton Park, Rich Mnisi soared into fashion design royalty early on (he graduated from LISOF School of Fashion in 2014) and his label has become synonymous with gender-fluidity. This brand is the combination of a unique vision that blends art, fashion and culture. 

A fast-rising name in the fashion industry, Mnisi's collections include a diverse range of clothing, accessories and lifestyle products that embody a distinct and contemporary aesthetic. Expect satin blouses and dresses, and athletic wear and outerwear to be colourful with striking yet playful silhouettes and innovative patterns, creating a style that resonates with fashion enthusiasts. His recent work includes a Pride range collaboration with Adidas. Rich Mnisi's pieces are available at We Are EGG at The Zone @ Rosebank and online. 

Thebe Magugu 

Designer Thebe Magugu. Photo: Thebe Magugu via Reuters. 

While he was born in Kimberley we are delighted to claim Thebe Magugu, who is now based in Joburg and recently gave the Financial Times a rundown of his favourite Joburg spots. Magugu hit the fashion stratosphere when he won the 2019 LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize, and was a finalist in the 2021 International Woolmark Prize. His latest collaborations have been with Adidas.

In a beautiful showcase of women's empowerment and African heritage, Magugu's eponymous brand seamlessly blends tradition and modernity, creating exceptional pieces that exude elegance and sophistication. The brand has quickly become beloved by both local and international fashion lovers, due to its authentic and visually interesting patterns and colours with unique, yet historically-inspired silhouettes and aesthetics. Shop via the Thebe Magugu website.  

Viviers Studio

Viviers Studio. Photo: Supplied.
From Viviers Studio – Karroo: Land of Thirst collection (2023). Photo: Supplied.

The fabulously talented Lezanne Viviers's innovative and eco-conscious fashion brand brings to life ready-to-wear, bespoke and couture clothing designs. Viviers crafts her garments with exquisite and rare textiles and repurposed dead-stock fabrics sourced from across the globe. The label's most recent collection titled 'Karroo: Land of Thirst' was showcased at Milan Fashion Week and SA Fashion Week. Viviers transforms fashion into an immersive sensory experience of contrasting elements. Skilled in-house artisans and tailors meticulously hand-bead and hand-weave each creation such as silk dresses, leather jackets and tailored trousers, breathing life into the designer's vision.

The Viviers Studio showroom in Westcliff is the perfect evocation of this brand – filled with objects of beauty, its rails a rainbow of extraordinarily detailed garments, each with a unique name and a story. A Viviers Studio creation transcends the limits of fashion as we know it – commercial, fast, trendy – and is better described as wearable art. The brand is also determinedly conscious about ethical practices and sustainability.  So often we see people refer to fashion items as "investment pieces", yet when we look at the work, heritage of the fabrics, and craftsmanship of Viviers Studio garments, we understand what that means. Find Viviers Studio at 133 Westcliff Drive in Parktown (by appointment only).



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