Lukhanyo Mdingi

The Diary of Lukhanyo Mdingi, fashion designer and creative director of the homonymous brand based in Cape Town, South Africa. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here


Diary of: @lukhanyomdingi

10 topics of conversation, approached from different perspectives, to explore reality through a kaleidoscopic vision
Ph. Michael Oliver Love
1. You come from Cape Town, South Africa. Which aspects of your homeland have shaped you the most? If you imagine exhibiting your collections all together in one room, which cultural elements would emerge most strongly and consistently?

I’m originally from a small beach town in the coast of the Eastern Cape in South Africa. I’m a young black Xhosa man that comes from a home that celebrates our people, our culture and the spirit of community. I believe that there is a certain kind of nuanced sensibility that is woven within the pieces of our collections. It’s the essence of love, of community, of human beings.

It’s been a steady & organic rise over these last 7 years but our aim is to build a bridge between artisanal craft and modern refinement; The craft being the provenance that represents the human hands and those that are part of these communities and the refinement being the sensibility of style.

Ph. @lukehouba
Ph. @kentandreasen
2. What did it mean, at the beginning of your career, to be a fashion designer in your Country? Are there any episodes, worthy of being recorded in a Diary, that you remember with greater intensity?

Its quite an interesting thing having the time to think, to reflect and to witness the trajectory of your career unfold before you. For me, having the opportunity to work in a space where I have watched key individuals use their time and talent as a means of service to our label has been a privilege. There isn’t one particular moment that necessarily trumps the other because everything and everyone matters. What I’ve realized through these years is that we are all more alike than different, we all want to be seen and heard for our truest selves, and a lot of time this is expressed through our finesse, our skills, our talents…


Ph. Kyle Weeks

3. What do you think are the most profound changes the fashion industry is experiencing today? How is the new generation of talent contributing to these changes?

Fashion is now being used a vehicle of change. The medium no longer feels as though it’s just about the clothes but it’s our intentions that are rooted and driven by purpose. I feel that is the biggest change that is being experienced currently.

4. What do you think are the strongest social issues that contemporary society is facing? Are there any battles that are closest to your heart?

We all have our own internal battles and our experiences are all relative to our conditioning, our backgrounds, our circles, and our environments. For me, it’s about seeing one another on a human level. Being a designer, an entrepreneur, a student, a teacher and a human, I have come to realize that we all need one another and I hope that should we be in a privilege position – I hope that we as human beings can become of service to one another.

Ph. Jarred Figgins
5. One of the most important issues in today’s discussion is the sustainable approach to fashion. Not only given by the naturalness of fabrics, but also by an approach that results in production processes, ethical or social content. What is your approach to this?

Having a considered and mindful approach to design and those that we work with is the essence of who we are. Its no easy task at times but the aim is to have an assertive and compassionate approach when embarking on each new product and new relationship. Textile development becomes one of the core practices within our label as this gives us the opportunity to work with humans-beings from the true provenance of the development process.

Being in the presence of those that have a strong sense of finesse within their craft allows room for a certain kind of honesty that man made machines don’t have. Our approach is to steadily nurture the relationship through the pure spirit of trust. For us this becomes the yield in creating the pieces that you see before you today.

6. Your work is steeped in cross-cultural references, making you a talent to follow. If you had to identify 5 references (even outside of fashion) that describe you, to search for on Instagram, what would they be?

I wouldn’t want the references to be pertained to just instagram but the references or key words that we find ourselves consistently leaning towards to are not always things that are tangible but ones that are more visceral. It’s the spirit of love, of human-beings, of sincerity, consideration and compassion.

Ph. Alexander Zonomessis
Ph. Alexander Zonomessis
Ph. @_kyleweeks_
7. Recently, a guest at Caleido said that in today’s world there is no longer a need for new “symbols” (which have always been central to fashion): what is needed is for creatives to focus on finding effective solutions to protect the environment and nature. Do you agree?

I think it’s an important practice to protect our environment and nature. I agree. I also believe that life is relative and as we know there are different tiers of privileges. To be in a space where you have the capacity to think about protecting the environment, nature or even simply designing the way that we are is a privileged one. I come from a country where the majority is constantly on survival mode – literally hand-to-mouth. Their capacity of thought is about bringing food to the table, keeping warm with no electricity, having no running water, making sure that their homes don’t over flood through the winter or simply moving and working in spaces that were created for them to fail and not have opportunities.

When we speak about these things of saving the environment, it’s a great and noble thing however, 3rd world or developing countries are not always in a position to think that a far ahead.

Ph. Kyle Weeks
Lukhanyo Mdingi
Ph. Kyle Weeks
8. As a new generation of creatives, what definition would you give to the concept of luxury?

Having the time to create something to its fullest potential and working with those that have the skills and ingenuity to help you do so.

Ph. Jesse Navarre Vos
Ph. Jesse Navarre Vos
9. How would you define romance? And love?

It’s a hard thing to describe what love is or how it feels, especially typing it into words. But what I can tell you is that love is the best of things and to experience it is a fucking sublime feeling.

Lukhanyo Mdingi
Lukhanyo Mdingi
10. What is one object in your home that you would never give up? What is the memory attached to it? Would you send us a photo taken by you?

It’s a hand-woven scarf that was made by my dear friend Nicholas Coutts. The scarf carries his essence and his spirit.


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