In a world battling for views, for likes, for an omnipresent algorithm to notice our screams into the dark night... it’s easy to focus on clothes, styles and patterns that make you stand out from the crowd. These seasonal garments, tied up in a year’s 52 fashion weeks, inevitably lose their appeal and are replaced by the next ‘thing.’ The fashion world digressed into the bare-essentials of Fear of God Sweats and Yeezy slides during the Covid-19 lockdowns, yet quickly spiralled into the copious consumption and club-culture of a world freed from restriction. However, sophisticated simplicity will always be a mainstay of fashion, great-fitting jeans, tailored trousers, neutral sweatshirts and clean-cut jackets are items that remain in outfit rotations and bond to our identities.
FIELDS has quickly become my favourite store over the last few months, gifting my wardrobe stylish and high-quality essentials. Considered designs, locally sourced materials and attentive tailoring, uplift trousers, shirts and jerseys into understated statement pieces. Mikael Hanan, a co-founder of Superbalist, started FIELDS just under three years ago with the mission to dress the multifaced men of SA. The components that make up the modern man are masculinity coupled with sensitivity, drive with empathy, and determination with thoughtfulness. These often-contradictory themes work in unison through work, leisure, and down time and it’s Hanan and FIELDS’ thoughtful design and creation that opens a space for the expression of and conversations about masculinity.
Furthermore, FIELDS collaborates with African designers and uses their artworks on gorgeous merino blend jerseys, tote bags and the lining of jackets. These pieces allow consumers, of all types, to wear, appreciate and collect the art that they love while bring attention to the local creative field. For FIELDS’ latest collection they tap into the artwork of Mbali Dhlamini, focusing on the decolonisation of identity through the juxtaposition of contrasting colours in a way that draws the viewer in and leaves more questions than answers. Dhlamini’s work has been repurposed into a knit that accentuates the wearers upper body and is a statement piece to be worn for all occasions. Season six of spring/summer 22 is themed ‘Living with Contrast’ which focuses on the struggle of finding balance and the desire to connect. The colour pallet evokes feelings of calm from which the wearer can propel themselves into adventures of experiencing the diversities of life that has been so limited due to lockdowns. The burning desire to live and to get out is represented by garments that fit into the intricacies of modern life.
How and why did you start FIELDS?
Having spent so many years in Superbalist, from the beginning as one of the co-founders, we were always selling other people’s brands and selling other people’s products. And with FIELDS , I really had this desire to get to the start and getting to the start meant manufacturing, it meant talking to factories, going to the farms in the Eastern Cape. Asking how do they treat their goats, how do they treat their sheep, what is their journey? It was about getting to the source. Another theme is about showcasing quality garments sourced and made in SA. As South Africans, we often think that if it’s from Europe, from America, it’s bigger, it’s better and that’s not always the case. In SA, a lot of retailers focus on the mass, which is very price-sensitive, but you’re not going to be spending that extra half an hour on a garment. I want to kind of almost prove a point that if you decide to do that, you can create quality garments.
Who is FIELDS for?
There is a ‘tribe’ of men that need to be highlighted, that are multifaceted. I felt frustrated by people putting you into a box, you’re a jock, you’re a geek or this or that. I find that one dimensional. I loosely group men into three areas of art, outdoor and soul.
Art is what you give to the world, finding yourself in flow with different facets of life. It can apply to a man who’s a developer, who’s a doctor, who’s a lawyer... you don’t need to be an artist to perform your art. Then there’s outdoor, which is about the physical nature of a man. So he’s playing a sport, he’s tactile, he’s aggressive there, he behaves differently and wears different clothes in that space. It’s totally cool if you’re going to be aggressive on the sports field, but you shouldn’t be aggressive in the third area, in soulful space, which is more about personal life, your family, your friends, your partner.
It’s about highlighting these facets, and then creating outfits for all these worlds. The artist element is the fourth layer, showcasing art, allowing you to express yourself wearing art and showcasing African artists as well. All of these things came together to create this world, to create this brand, which is now called Fields.
What are your garments and accessories made from?
I’ve always only believed in natural fibres, primarily because of their breathable and comfortable nature. I don’t enjoy the synthetic process, I prefer to think about a more sustainable approach. I love the idea about saying, can we farm something that’s natural, can we source it sustainably? We focus on natural fibres sourced within Southern Africa.
The new collection is available to purchase now fieldsstore.com
Key new pieces
- Fields x Mbali collab sweater
- Weekend trouser in denim
- Round neck sweater in mistletoe
- Simple sweater in Brown Rice
- Everyday sock in Black Iris (navy)
Look book SS22 — ‘Living With Contrast’
Photographer: Ian Engelbrecht
Assistant Photographer: Michael Goldsmid
Creative & Styling: Kelly Fung
Founder & Designer: Mikael Hanan