Thebe Magugu is founder and creative director of the South African luxury brand bearing his name. His innovative designs, thought-provoking discourse and commitment to showcasing South African culture have earned him international acclaim. In 2019, he became the first African to win the prestigious LVMH Prize for young designers.
Born and raised in South Africa, Magugu's early path in fashion was not without challenges. After being rejected from Central Saint Martins, he enrolled at Stadio’s School of Fashion in Johannesburg. Upon graduation in 2016, he launched his namesake label, overcoming financial and logistical difficulties. A breakout moment came when he was chosen by Woolworths to create a capsule collection for Spring/Summer 2017, which was showcased at South African Fashion Week. He has collaborated with major brands such as Dior, AZ Factory and Adidas and is stocked at Bergdorf Goodman, Net-a-Porter and Dover Street Market .
Magugu's designs, characterised by bold prints and silky, retro-inflected silhouettes, regularly incorporate cultural and political narratives related to post-colonial Africa. Prints have depicted family photos, or on a darker note, heaps of discarded clothes shipped in from the West. His 2022 fashion show at London's Victoria & Albert Museum took place in front of a giant shopping tote, depicting the item referred to as "Ghana Must Go" bags when Nigeria deported migrants from neighbouring countries in the 1980s.
Magugu remains committed to his roots, producing collections, shooting lookbooks and selling in and around his native Johannesburg. In an interview with The Business of Fashion in 2023, Magugu said “I want to give back to my country and keep the brand local for as long as possible. I have had to make crucial decisions that may set us back financially, but advance the goals of the brand.”