Launched in SA in 1980, the Dakotas brand has a rich history in the wardrobes of local fashionistas. Hand-stitched styles by local and international craftsmen have ensured the endurance of the brand’s relevancy into its fourth decade.
Following the heritage brand’s collaboration with artist Jay Carson, which highlighted the connection between nature and purpose in a limited collection, Dakotas has now collaborated with SA fashion darling Wanda Lephoto. The iconic Dakotas Hi Shine Loafer has been reinterpreted into an easy-to-wear Hi Shine Mule, establishing a locally-made modern style to exist alongside their classics. Collaboration with local artists and designers signals a new movement of Dakotas into the contemporary and fashion-forward consciousness of the country.
Lephoto’s practice unpacks notions of luxury through the exploration of African cultures, approaches and identities within global nuances. Fusing multiple perspectives and agendas, the brand allows its wearers a space to negotiate their own representation and identity with the African spirit remaining as the core inspiration of Wanda Lephoto. Reinterpreting the past through tailoring and craftsmanship helps create conversations about shared experiences and inclusive futures.
“I have always maintained that in a time where the world looks at Africa for inspiration, it is always interesting to observe what, where and how Africans move," says Lephoto. "Often having to reappropriate our own culture against the commercial viability the West has over us, we seldom look past aestheticism to unwrap the true nature of who we are."
The Hi Shine Mules are a part of a new movement in fashion, the mulement towards easy-to-wear formal and semi-formal loafers. As spaces and the world have shrunk over the last two years of lockdowns, clogs and mules have emerged as an ideal alternative to dress shoes and hyped-sneakers, allowing style and versatility to exist in tandem. The photo-shoot incorporates rich tones and considered comfort with bespoke craftsmanship and cutting-edge architecture in the Teddy Santis-esque editorial shot at the R33m Steyn City penthouse designed by star-chitects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens. Lifestyle photos by Thotloetso Kutlwano Mogotsi highlight the juxtaposition of streetwear and established design all within the Dakotas’ heritage colours of greens, reds and yellows. Rech and Carstens have cemented themselves as patrons of the SA arts, fashion, and creative industry by providing their designs and their own awe-inspiring house for shoots and shows by creatives such as Thebe Magugu and Lephoto.
It only takes a quick look at Dakotas’ Instagram to see the potential and platform that the brand has in becoming a staple item in the wardrobes of contemporary SA’s hustlers, movers-and-shakers, and fashion icons. South African flair, fashion, and design, coupled with our rich heritage, is in vogue, where it belongs.