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Impossible is nothing in the Adidas x Rich Mnisi campaign

We chat with the SA designer about the collaboration on a collection of performance pieces and streetwear, including a nod to his Tsonga heritage

27 February 2022 - 00:00
Model wears Rich Mnisi Swimsuit, R1,199
Model wears Rich Mnisi Swimsuit, R1,199
Image: Supplied by Adidas

adidas has joined forces with beloved South African fashion designer Rich Mnisi.

The campaign sees the two icons co-create a collection that blends the designer’s art of intricate colourways and prints with the sport retailer’s expertise in performance gear. This culminates in a collaboration that include pieces drawn from Mnisi’s bold silhouettes, prints and patterns as well as innovative sports designs, all using adidas’s latest performance materials.

To understand the genius behind the fashion, this is what Mnisi had to say about everything that went into the collaboration.

How did the opportunity with adidas global come about, and how do you feel about this collaboration?

At the beginning of 2020, we received a mail from adidas reaching out about collaborating on a collection of performance pieces and streetwear. I am immensely proud to present this collection in collaboration with adidas, an iconic brand that I grew up seeing on people of colour who were rewriting the arts.

It's been a pleasure to bring my designs to classic pieces. Together we have created a bright, unique collection that reflects my love for the idea of community and heritage, individuality and self-expression. Our aim was to create pieces that support life on and off the sports field.

What does a collaboration of this scale mean for the South African fashion industry? 

It means the world is seeing us for what we are — talented! This will give more South Africans a seat at the table. 

How did your family and friends react to the news, and who was the first person you told? 

Honestly, everyone found out online. The people who knew were working on the project with me and were as thrilled as I was. My mom was happy when I asked her to co-write and feature on an original song with Que DJ for our Homeland film — such a beautiful moment.

1. Rich Mnisi Bodysuit, R1099 2. Rich Mnisi Tights, R749 3. Rich Mnisi Bra, R1099 4. Rich Mnisi Forum Mid, R2199 5. Rich Mnisi Sweater, R1499
1. Rich Mnisi Bodysuit, R1099 2. Rich Mnisi Tights, R749 3. Rich Mnisi Bra, R1099 4. Rich Mnisi Forum Mid, R2199 5. Rich Mnisi Sweater, R1499
Image: Supplied by Adidas

How long did it take to put this collection together? How would you describe the process? 

We started in the first quarter of 2020, and it was such a joy working with the team at adidas — they were always aware of me and what I had to say. 

Was it easy to plug into the performance range, seeing your collection spans across sport & lifestyle?

It was a shift, but a necessary one because I had to unthink everything I knew about functionality.  The movement of the body in a sports context surpasses the limitations created in normal ready-to-wear — which is what I do —  so it was good to be challenged. Overall, it was an exciting process —  plugging into the performance range and seeing the story play across a collection that spans beyond fashion into technical sportswear.

Why was it important to celebrate your Tsonga heritage  in this collection?

Each Rich Mnisi collection pays homage to my family, celebrating my culture and heritage. And this collection is no different.

Rich Mnisi Bra, R1,099; Rich Mnisi Tights, R1,699.
Rich Mnisi Bra, R1,099; Rich Mnisi Tights, R1,699.
Image: Supplied by adidas

Your favourite piece from the collection? 

The Ultraboost is fire.

After an incredible start to the year, is there more we can expect from you in 2022? 

Yes. At Rich Mnisi, Impossible is Nothing.

What are your thoughts about sustainability in the fashion industry?

As a global brand growing in SA, a country that is committed to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, we must find creative ways to respond to market challenges, and the legislative framework that governs our business practices both locally and internationally. Our track record as Rich Mnisi illustrates our commitment to finding the balance between sustainability and growth. We not only try as far as possible to use ethically sourced materials, but we also focus on improving the lives of the people and communities directly involved in our production line.

With all the knowledge you have now, what tips do you have for aspiring designers? 

Adapt your skills to the times you live in. Be consistent, be persistent, and learn as much as you can. Also, it won’t be easy.

• Visit adidas.com