You are usually intentional with the models you use in your campaigns. What inspired the chosen faces for adidas x Thebe Magugu, especially with your family taking centre stage?
I needed familiarity so others may be able to see themselves in the collection. I am proud of this cast, which ranges from members of my family to people often relegated to the margins of fashion. I wanted to put a spotlight on people who have a different beauty, removed from the status quo, which is apt [considering] the guiding words of the collection, “Finding Beauty”.
Run us through the prints you chose for the collaboration as many of them carry signatures from your regular pieces.
There are familiar collaborative contributors one might recognise from my world, namely artist Phathu Nembwili, who created the headline print in the collection.
When adidas approached me with the collection, it was during the height of the pandemic and I felt whatever we did needed to have an undeniable optimism and joy, which resulted in the illustration of a woman unabashedly dancing to the rhythm in her head. It is quite a protest when thinking about the times we are in.
Will the sportswear hijab be available to South Africans? Can you run us through your direction in designing them for adidas?
Yes, we felt it was critical that all pieces be available in all regions because deciding who gets certain pieces might go against the inclusive intention of the collection. Sport is supposed to be enjoyed by everyone, it is a language-less pleasure everyone can understand and feel part of. However, sportswear — for everyone to feel seen and heard — needs to reflect a diverse audience and we created a hijab that can aid modest women to enjoy themselves and perform without slippage or discomfort.
Sportswear can be a status symbol and luxe item in the same way high-end designer creations are. Would athleisure or sportswear ever be a world that you would enter as a designer?
Yes, it would be — as a certain eventual. My universe is growing but it needs to do so slowly and sustainably. I think the mistake of emerging designers — and I have been guilty of this — is growing the amount of styles they make too quickly, which puts unnecessary pressure on their businesses.
Doing this collaboration was incredibly special to me because it allowed me to imagine what Thebe Magugu sportswear might look like, taught, in my opinion, by the most impactful sportswear brand in the world, with an unmatched cultural caste to match.
Some of the pieces, including the running shorts and jackets, feature a squiggle pattern. What was the inspiration for this?
It was a motif that grew from the background motif of the Dancing Woman print. I loved how imprecise those patterns are, almost as if imagined by a child, which I believe contributes to the joyful feel of the collection.