By all accounts, this year’s selection of designers was by far the most diverse in the history of the awards and signified a step in the right direction for recognition of diversity in the fashion industry. It included designers from Israel, Nigeria, and South Africa, all competing for the very first time. Speaking about this new direction to Vogue magazine, Daphne said “Each new edition brings its lot of firsts. It goes to show the reach of the Prize on the one hand, and on the other, the reach of fashion, its ability to touch more and more people, thanks in part to the Internet. It is truly a unifying dynamic. This year we received more than 1,700 applications, a record.

Most of [the finalists] have integrated up-cycling in their sourcing strategy. First and foremost, [of course,] we appraise the creativity of the candidates. Naturally, if it is combined with an ethical and environmental awareness at the service of creation, then so much the better.”

The iconic competition is open to designers from all over the world who have produced at least two collections and who are under 40 years of age. In order to give them a chance to fully explore their creative range, the prize gives the winners a grant of 300,000 euros and support from members of the LVMH group for a year.This support covers all there is to know about running a fashion brand including intellectual property, sourcing, production and distribution, image and marketing. It is quite possibly the most valuable and coveted prize in fashion and has launched many a career in the past.

Representing from Africa, we have two rising stars; Kenneth Ize from Nigeria and Thebe Magugu from South Africa.

Thebe Magugu

Thebe Magugu is the eponymous label from a young, contemporary South African designer born and raised in Kimberley, SA.

On his Instagram, Thebe wrte a heartfelt message thanking the LVMH group for including him in the shortlist:

I am so honoured to be selected as one of the Top 8 Finalists for the @lvmhprize and to be part of such a monumental initiative by @lvmh.

Creating clothes with cultural significance, exploring social issues, sharing stories from my country, empowering those I can, and making beautiful yet functional clothes women want to wear has been a checklist I continually hold the brand to, and getting to share that with the world - through @thebemagugu and @facultypress - has been the biggest driving force.

Thebe admits that his love for fashion was inspired by the brilliant women who played a crucial part in his upbringing and introduced him to the magic of clothes. As a result, his label focuses primarily on women’s ready to wear and accessories.

Thebe studied Fashion & Apparel Design at Lisof Fashion School in Johannesburg and since graduating, his work has become an integral part of the way South African’s view modern design. Always one to make a statement, Thebe uses his clothes to explore themes of gender disparity, race and tradition.

Kenneth Ize

Born in Lagos, Nigerian fashion designer Kenneth Ize launched his eponymous label in 2013, straight after graduating from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. It was a risky move for the fairly new designer but it was one that paid off as his label was an instant hit due to his successful marriage of the traditional and the current. His use of aso-oke and adire is inspired and has inspired many designers to follow suit and explore materials pertinent to Nigeria’s rich cultural history.

The Kenneth Ize brand takes a sustainable approach to the design by using locally-sourced materials locally and ensuring a fair and safe working space for all workers and artisans, one that encourages collaboration and births magic.