Tshepo Modiba from Artistic Soul is a man with a very clear idea of who wears his clothes. His client is the man who inhabits the aspirational realms that almost all South African young men want to inhabit.
He is the dream of success made real, dressed in the glory of fine fabrics and sophisticated styling. He is a post graduate who has secured himself a place at a high profile corporation. He is a charmer who flirts his way into the good books of the ladies ? even the older, more conservative ones. He is attentive to his girlfriend and spoils her with thoughtful gifts and special treats. He is the man that Tshepo himself wants to be.
Cohesive, complete, compelling
And it is this absolute clarity of vision that has allowed Tshepo to design a collection of contemporary men's wear that is cohesive, complete and compelling.
Tshepo starts where all designers should, with the fabrics. With an appropriate reverence for quality fabric seldom seen in SA men's wear design, Tshepo has been able to reintroduce silk for the men's shirt and brocade for the jackets. He has no idea what he will design and what story he will tell, until he has the fabric between his fingers, and then the inspiration comes.
He has paid the ultimate attention to the details of his collection ? using round brass buttons on one brown jacket, while steel oblongs are used on a grey jacket.
Piping and lining fabrics are placed at equal importance to the one used for the body of the suit. And it is this detail, together with accessories and styling, that allow Tshepo to bring creativity to the collection whist retaining the classic elegance of the clothing.
Not for frivolous entertainment
Tshepo says that there is a fine line in designing men's wear ? it's not for frivolous entertainment like women's collections, but it must be interesting.
And interesting it certainly was. With rich colours like plum and chocolate, contrasting with silver and red, and worn with coloured Converse trainers, there was no holding back on seeing that this collection was firmly placed in contemporary culture.
Floral silk shirts under conventional suits and classic suits with shorts instead of long trousers brought small quirks into the elegance of the over-arching look. All the while maintaining a '60s slickness and a rather British narrowness in the cut of the suits.
I asked about the place for this collection within the context of the South African style identity, and Tshepo echoes many of my own thoughts on the subject, saying: "SA fashion has moved away from indigenous clothing and fabrics. It has evolved from our heritage although this remains at its foundation. The soul of my collection is African but the appeal is designed to be global."
And this African boy definitely has his eye on the global prize. His style is both preppy and playful, with a vintage quality to it. It is designed to appeal equally to the high-flying visitor from Europe as the local boy made good in Joburg's Northern suburbs.
It has the sharpness that Jay-Z and P Diddy have made their trademarks, but enough of the African spirit to be authentic. But it is expensive. These are the clothes of a man who has made it. I wouldn't be surprised if Tshepo himself is soon to follow.
For more information on Robyn and for photos from Joburg Fashion Week, go to: styleguidecapetown.blogspot.com