Thebe Magugu presented his latest collection at the South African Fashion Week in May 2019. Four months later, the talented South African designer won the LVMH prize, an award that comes with a cash prize of €300,000 and a yearlong mentoring. Magugu is the first designer from Africa to win the prize. The prize includes a year of “technical and financial support” from the luxury giant.
Alicia Vikander, who presented Magugu with the award, was quoted by Vogue saying. “The talent in this room quite simply stupefying, and the finalists represent the future of fashion”.
Magugu was part of 1,700 applicants from 100 countries who applied for the LVMH prize. “The Johannesburg-based designer, just three years after launching his brand, is creating clothes that have the power to shift global perceptions of South African identity,” Cassidy George wrote for Vogueworld.
Magugu studied fashion design, photography and media at the LISOF School of Fashion in Johannesburg. He plans to get a studio space with the money he won. He told BOF, “Winning the prize means the world to me. €300,000 goes a very long way. The unemployment rate is 30 per cent of the youth in South Africa. That is massive. I want to do my part”.
Prior to winning the LVMH award in Paris, France, Magugu had won an award for curation and fashion content at the International Fashion Showcase, supported by the British Fashion Council.
Magugu said South Africa’s many dualities, both very beautiful and violent, informed his work. Despite winning this huge sum of money Magugu has no plans to leave South Africa. He said, “I want to show the world that from South Africa you can get the entire cycle of production. There are challenges, I am not going to lie, in terms of infrastructure and system but the promise is there. There’s so much talent in the country”.
Like many challenges facing the continent, Magugu is facing distribution problems. The LVMH prize started in 2014, with its first three winners being designers who were based in London. LVMH is a French multinational luxury goods conglomerate.