For the first time in H&M’s 72-year history, the retail powerhouse has partnered with a popular South African-based clothing brand to launch Mantsho x H&M, a dynamic collaboration designed to celebrate the cutting-edge style and vibrancy of Africa.
Pops of bold prints, carefully-crafted linen blends and Afrocentric accessories all encompass the innovative line; many of its pieces weaving a story of Africa’s lively culture while meeting the high demands of 21st-century fast fashion.
“This is my love letter to the world from Africa,” says Mantsho’s head of design, Palesa Mokubung. “I hope customers around the world will enjoy this ensemble of my stand-out pieces from my last three collections.”
In an interview with Face2Face Africa (F2FA), Palesa (PW) discussed her creative process and what it is like to work with H&M.
Read the details of the interview below:
F2FA: Can you talk to me about what inspired you to begin designing clothes?
PW: I was born a creative person and when it came to choosing careers I naturally leaned towards designing, which I was passionate about and very good at.
F2FA: How did the Mantsho & H&M collaboration come into fruition? What were your initial thoughts?
PW: When H&M came knocking, I had been building this iconic brand Mantsho for 15 years during which time it has grown in leaps and bounds into a label much-loved by stylish South African women. Mantsho has been a South African Fashion Week staple and has been featured on global runways including Brazil, Greece, Jamaica, Nigeria, Senegal and the US, to list but a few. When they approached me I was excited but I also I knew I was ready. I had put a lot of work into finessing my craft and building my brand including studying.
F2FA: What impact do you think this collection will bring in regards to African fashion merging into the Western world?
PW: Every piece reveals my love for contemporary African culture and passion for structure and aesthetics. The collection has a global appeal but with a strong South African design influence. I transformed African materials into modern and edgy designs, incorporating woven fabrics to end up with a 100% Mantsho garment. A Mantsho garment can be identified by three distinct elements – it’s confident, its effortless silhouette and its structure and quirkiness.
F2FA: What is your favorite piece in the collection?
PW: My best wardrobe stand-out piece is the unique Mantsho collar, which can also be worn in a variety of interesting ways.
F2FA: How do you think the line will resonate with the average H&M consumer?
PW: I am excited for H&M customers to finally see this beautiful range and all the hard work that has gone into it. I am confident the range will do well more so as the collection is a compilation of my best sellers from Mantsho’s past three successful collections.
F2FA: H&M has been known to collaborate with designers in the past (Comme des Garçons and to Lanvin to name a few). What separates the Mantsho collection from the rest?
PW: I wanted to celebrate the beauty of women, the vibrancy and diversity of the African aesthetic, its textures and colors. Mantsho was selected for its distinctly African designs and its ethos.
F2FA: Looking past the H&M collaboration, where do you see your fashion line in 10 years?
PW: H&M has given me reach to a wider global market and working with a global retailer of this magnitude has given me knowledge I didn’t have. For the first time I had an opportunity to create an accessory line which was amazing. I see Mantsho being a household international brand.
The Mantsho x H&M collection is available in the select U.S stores around the country and online at hm.com.