Joburg Itinerary: Fashion designer Thebe Magugu's guide to Joburg – The Financial Times

more than a year ago
The Financial Times recently featured trailblazing fashion designer Thebe Magugu in their How To Spend It In ... feature, written by Mary Holland. If you don't already know, Magugu's name became the stuff of fashion legend when he was just 26, after he won the prestigious LVMH Prize for emerging talent – the first African designer to do so.
Fashion designer Thebe Magugu. Photo: Taurai Maduna via Reuters. 

"I fell in love with Joburg the longer I stayed here" – Thebe Magugu

Originally from Kimberly in the Northern Cape, Magugu came to Johannesburg to study fashion design, photography and media at LISOF in Randburg (now the Stadio School of Fashion). He told the Financial Times: "I fell in love with Joburg the longer I stayed here." He highlights the city's evident and often difficult contrasts, but ends the article by saying that Joburg is a must-visit for tourists to South Africa. Magugu's guide features some of our favourite places to experience the city's fashion, food and art. Here's the snapshot.  

Food I Love You

Where good friends and delicious food meet. Photo: Food I Love You. 
Ex-ad agency account manager and self-taught chef, Mpho Phalane, is at the helm of this culinary gem at Constitution Hill. Food I Love You offers simple yet creative fare that celebrates how the act of eating can bring people together. This charming eatery combines Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and African influences and provides an inviting atmosphere, in contrast to its stark prison and fort surroundings. It's perfect for indulging in a memorable dining experience. 

Magugu on Food I Love You: "What is so good about Phalane's food is that she infuses a sense of modernity into the traditional meals we ate growing up. It goes back to those juxtapositions – those tensions between things that seem like they shouldn't be together, coming together and creating a beautiful result."

Joburg, in a nutshell. 

The Royale

Artwork by Njabulo 'Dirty Native' Hlophe on the walls of The Royale. Photo: Njabulo Hlophe.
The Royale in Craighall is a stand-out spot with an electric, inviting atmosphere that creates a smooth transition from day to night. With a tropical, 1950s Cuban theme, The Royale offers excellent mojitos and a casual menu in a setting that's always filled with the lively sounds of friends pulling each other into a sing-a-long. Enjoy their cocktail slushies or snack on a plate of crunchy and flavourful cauliflower bites and chips.

Magugu noted the communal feel, crediting the establishment (owned by his friends), by saying: "So many collaborations or ideas I've had, have come from conversations at The Royale." 

Africa Rise in Sandton City

Imprint ZA at Africa Rise
Africa Rise puts the best of local brands forward – in focus, Imprint ZA. Photo: Africa Rise. 

Launched by acclaimed local fashion designer and entrepreneur Thula Sindi, Africa Rise is Joburg's premier local fashion emporium with branches in Sandton City, Marshalltown and Pretoria. On the racks you'll find an incredible array of top African fashion names like Gavin Raja, as well as Ephymol, The Bam Collective and MALONDIÉ. The store is "a place for emerging names in fashion," Magugu told the Financial Times

To learn more about Sindi and Africa Rise, read our  #MyJoburg with Thula Sindi feature.  


2A is the epitome of luxury shopping at Hyde Park Corner. Photo: 2A. 

This captivating luxury clothing store is nestled in the ever-swanky Hyde Park Corner and Sandton City. Renowned for its impeccable selection of high-end fashion brands including Balenciaga, Tom Ford and Azzedine Alaïa, this boutique offers a shopping experience for fashion enthusiasts.

Magugu commended 2A and the Apsley Group for bringing luxury fashion to South Africa. The celebrated designer recalls seeing the limited-edition capsule collection he created in 2022 with Dior, in aid of South African-born actress Charlize Theron's outreach project on the racks at 2A. "It was such a weird, full-circle moment; I always felt like I was stuck on the outside of the industry, so seeing the collection was special for so many reasons."


The Gourmet Grocer & Coffefe Coffee Bar

Good food (and coffee) in beautiful Birdhaven. Photo: The Gourmet Grocer.
This New York-style deli, which popped up in Birdhaven during the height of Covid-19, sells a wide range of in-demand deli essentials, providing customers with locally sourced fresh ingredients and baked goods. This culinary oasis offers a variety of bread, artisanal cheeses and succulent cuts of meat. It also features a separate dedicated coffee bar, Coffefe.

The Gourmet Grocer is where Magugu starts his mornings. He told the Financial Times that he always orders a rooibos tea and a smoothie with peanut butter and yoghurt. "On Saturdays I sit there and catch up on work without having to worry about hurrying to the office."

Doppio Zero 

Doppio Zero, for an al fresco breakfast or dinner in Rosebank. Photo: Doppio Zero.
This buzzing restaurant at The Firs in Rosebank is welcoming and vibrant, and in an ideal location for a sunny breakfast, or brunch on the terrace. Doppio Zero is also popular for early evening drinks and dinner in a chic atmosphere. Or try out Magugu's usual order, the pollo limone (grilled chicken breasts with char-grilled broccoli and a lemon cream sauce), served with a side of sweet-chilli sauce. Said Magugu: "I love how all those flavours come together. And then, if it's the weekend, I get a strawberry daiquiri". 


The ultimate location for an elegant meal. Photo: Marble.

"If I want to dress up and feel chic, I'll go with friends to Marble, an incredible restaurant in Rosebank," Magugu revealed to the Financial TimesMarble, located in the flashy Trumpet building on Keyes Art Milehosts a collection of impressive artworks and boasts views stretching out towards the Magaliesberg. We agree Marble's wraparound balcony is the perfect place to take in a Joburg sunset.

highlights the restaurant's brown and olive decor with marble accents, where diners can enjoy an intimate dinner of fresh, open-fire grilled line fish and char-grilled chicken thighs. Or try out what Magugu tells the Financial Times is his usual order: a steak with a sweet white wine. 



Sethembile Msezane’s Liguqubele iZulu at BKhz. Photo: Tatenda Chidora. 

Downstairs from Marble is the art gallery BKhz, owned by Banele Khoza. Khoza describes BKhz as "a platform for creatives to showcase their art with a support system", explaining that young Black artists like himself can better reach their potential if supported in the gallery system to make art full time.

Magugu told the Financial Times, "Every six weeks [Khoza] will [spotlight] emerging names. His commitment and taste are incredible. You always learn something new and that's really important for me; in my work, I'm always trying to portray what contemporary South Africa actually looks like now. I don't think you can be a fashion designer if you don't have your ears to the ground." 

Check out our exhibitions blog for current and upcoming exhibitions at BKhz and other galleries in Joburg. 

Magugu, an internationally renowned fashion designer, is still very much in love with the city that we call home. His favourite places to experience fashion, food and art come together to create an ever-changing city.

A city that continues to inspire people like Magugu, and those lucky to walk its streets. 


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