Thebe Magugu has reportedly been announced as one of six finalists in the 2021 International Woolmark Prize, according to IOL. The multi award-winning fashion designer from South Africa is gunning for the annual prize which is reportedly worth over two million Rand (approximately USD 131 140). Magugu is contesting against five other finalists from around the world including Nigerian designer, Kenneth Ize. Magugu won the highly acclaimed 2019 LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) award and made history as the first African to do so. This might just be another win for the young designer and we’re certainly here for it.
The International Woolmark Prize is the longest standing prestigious prize for emerging fashion designers. High fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent were the first winners of the prize in 1954. Magugu, who is only 27-years-old, took to his Instagram to thank the Woolmark Company for the opportunity for being selected as one of the top six finalists.
Magugu’s designs have been described by Vogue writer, Janelle Okwodu, as an homage to the classical flowing styles of a bygone cinematic era. The silhouettes are a reference to Black civil movements both in the USA during the rise of Black Panther and in South Africa during Apartheid. In a statement to Vogue, Magugu explained that his LVMH win saw a rise in sales but cancellations soon followed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Magugu reportedly currently produces his garments locally as part of his own socio-economic responsibility. The International Woolmark Prize might boost productions as finalists have the opportunity for their designs to be picked up by international brands.
The other four top finalists are Bethany Williams and Matty Bovan from the UK, Marie-Eve Lecavalier from Canada and Charaf Tajer from France. The six finalists were selected from 380 applications across 55 countries. Former supermodel, Naomi Campbell, was part of the selection committee. Winners will be announced early next year.