When one thinks of Thebe Magugu, the image of the South African matriarch comes to mind. The Johannesburg-based designer has carved out his image with his vibrant garments, cultural and nature-inspired motifs, unconventional cut fabrics resembling a magic trick of levitation, and colour play for an added depth, fit for the powerful, strong, and willful woman who appreciates high-quality clothing. A collaboration with Canada Goose, the luxury performance apparel brand which prides itself on its garments fit for the harshest of Canadian winters, might feel out-of-the-box for Magugu, but it’s a challenge he’s taken on, successfully so.
The Thebe Magugu x Canada Goose collaboration, part of Canada Goose’s wider Hood Trim Collective, sees the designer take a crack at winter wear. The Mystique Parka takes centre stage in this collaboration, reimagined by Magugu with geometric and floral motifs actually inspired by the Basotho blanket, a traditional woollen blanket worn by Sotho people in South Africa and Lesotho. An Heirloom Shawl Hood Trim joins the collaboration, to ensure full protection against the elements.
We caught up with Thebe Magugu to discuss the in’s and out’s of his recent Canada Goose collaboration, from inspiration to design process.
Tell me a little bit about this collection. How did this partnership come together? Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to design from the get-go or was it a long process of researching and experimenting?
The Thebe Magugu x Canada Goose collection looks at a modern vision of my Sotho culture, expressed through a celebratory motif print of ‘Poone’ (corn on the cob), which represents abundance, prosperity and wealth.
For this collection, you took on iconic pieces from Canada Goose for a Thebe Magugu revamp. With such a signature piece like the Mystique Parka, how do you decide which design elements to keep and which ones to redesign?
The Heirloom Mystique parka is a considered meditation between form and function, celebrating the culture and heritage the Thebe Magugu brand designs are known for, through the performance-ready quality always expected of Canada Goose. We kept the original Mystique Parka silhouette and physical cut, as even though the silhouette extends away from the body, it still flatters the body in the way it is cut, giving a slight nipped waist feel. But we played with the print – exploring a modern vision of my Sotho culture, representing abundance, prosperity and wealth.
When working on a collaboration as such, do you tend to find the common ground between the Canada Goose brand and the Thebe Magugu aesthetic? Or do you find opposing aesthetics and try to make them work together?
As a designer, my main concern is striking a balance between aesthetic and functionality – which is something Canada Goose concerns itself with: absolute quality in design and execution. I believe in garments that assist us, not impair us, to navigate through life efficiently, while looking our best – and I look to collaborate with brands who share the same ideals.
Out of all your collections, this piece seems to be the ‘heaviest’ you’ve created, a Parka ready for harsh weather South Africa isn’t known for. Did that come as a difficulty, design-wise, for you?
My work will always stem from a part of my heritage or context, and I thought it was the perfect pairing because people of my culture are often exposed to extremely low temperature environments hearing on the mountain side – so making this correlation between Canada Goose and the Kingdom of Lesotho was very appropriate
Your hometown and family have always been key sources of inspiration for you, and in this collaboration too. Tell me a little bit about that.
Season after season, I incorporate something about South Africa into the collections to create sleek, forward-looking design intersects with motifs & details that stem from our continent’s storied past, complex present and exciting imagined futures. For this project, I had saved images of research I had done on various Basotho Blanket Prints, which have a variety of patterns and prints, each with their own meaning – from the symbolism of corn to the symbolism of an ace of spades. This was inter-spliced with images of my own family, who are in various forms of their traditional sotho attire. A variety of textures and trims also sit on the moodboard, all of which came together beautifully to form the Heirloom Mystique Parka.
Check out the full Thebe Magugu x Canada Goose Hood Trim Collective collection here.
Main image credit: Thebe Magugu x Canada Goose ©
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