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Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town: Adriaan Kuiters

We talk to South African designer Keith Henning about his S/S13 collection, shown at the official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town

What a sight modern travellers must be to South African designer Keith Henning, who remembers the golden age of travel with its glamorous passengers on champagne-high journeys well from his grandfather’s personal archive. Yet the label he’s founded this dream upon in 2011 is not based on a total flashback. Adriaan Kuiters is a way of reconnecting menswear less to the aesthetic, and more to the romantic optimism of the era.

Stripping back the glamour to reveal a simple elegance, the former industrial designer creates for the person less fussed about fashion but who takes care of their appearance – and successfully, with a standalone store already in operation. Dazed Group’s fashion director Cathy Edwards has selected Adriaan Kuiters as one of the three labels under the spotlight in Mercedes-Benz FASHION BROADCASTING, a groundbreaking new project to combine emerging fashion, filmmaking and culture. Henning sheds light on the local industries and his desire to prolong the lifespan of fashion.

DD: What are you up to at the moment?
Keith Henning:
I am planning to open another store soon in the heart of Johannesburg and also working on some new accessories for summer!

DD: Adriaan Kuiters was named and inspired after your globetrotting grandfather. What’s your most magical travel experience?
Keith Henning:
Switzerland has to be it for me. I stayed in a stone cottage in the Swiss Alps in the midst of winter. 

DD: How do you feel about being part of the Mercedes-Benz FASHION BROADCASTING project? What was the experience like?
Keith Henning:
It was a fantastic experience for me, being adrenaline-high and backstage with the models was so exciting. I feel really honoured to be part of it. 

DD: What was the inspiration for your latest collection?
Keith Henning:
It was inspired by mid-century architecture; exploring surface texture versus design simplicity.

DD: How does your background in industrial and product design affect the way you approach fashion design?
Keith Henning:
I don't see my work as fashion but as another form of product design. So I approach it the same way, creating timeless items that people can wear through seasons and through trends, and which will last you in terms of quality. I design for longevity; I want to prolong the lifespan of the product. It's all clean, simple and architectural.

DD: What attracted you to fashion?
Keith Henning:
There wasn't a big variety to choose from in menswear, it was just basic stuff from the chain stores. I wanted to make clothes for men that were comfortable and that looked good, and that were locally made so people could support local design and manufacturing. I have a love for clothing, and a passion for design. If I had the time I would explore all areas of design. 

DD: I love that your label supports the local industries, from design to manufacturing. Can you tell us something about the South African fashion industry that we might not be privy to?
Keith Henning:
Our fashion industry is a tough one as we are limited with fabric choice and quality manufacturing. I believe in working with small independent seamstress, encouraging growth in the industry.

DD: That’s great. Where do you plan to take your brand in the future?
Keith Henning:
I want to expand abroad, not sure yet where. That should come with time.

DD: Finally, what are your must-see places when visiting South Africa?
Keith Henning:
Company gardens and its national art museum, and then of course Cape Town’s famous Clifton beach.

Photos by Nico Krijno

More info on Mercedes-Benz Fashion Broadcasting HERE