On the occassion the recent edition of Pitti Uomo, Florence’s elite were
introduced to Mandla Sibeko. The winner of the first Business Day Wanted Most
Stylish Business Person award in 2011 was handpicked by Cartier, as part of a select group of global ambassadors, for the launch of the Drive de Cartier watch. Sibeko embodies the maison’s virtues of elegance and an independent spirit in both his style and perspective.
Sibeko, who is also a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, has a defining philosophy of investing in his passions. This is the fil rouge that runs through his entrepreneurial endeavours, which include the directorship of Africa’s largest art showcase, the FNB Johannesburg Art Fair, as well as Sanlam’s Handmade Contemporary Craft Fair.
Both platforms are geared towards promoting Africa’s creative innovations, with a combined exposure to 24 000 international visitors. A major draw this year will be the lauded Kenyan artist, Wangechi Mutu, the featured artist at the 11th edition of the Johannesburg Art Fair.
This is not the first time Sibeko has been involved in promoting Africa to the world. “One of the greatest honours of my career so far was leading the entire branding and signage programme for the 2010 Soccer World Cup,” he says. “Helping visitors to navigate the cities and stadiums, this was a major opportunity to impact millions of people.”
What will drive the local creative landscape further is entrepreneurial acuity. As the chairman of e-commerce platform Netflorist, and with a background in small business investment, Sibeko is acutely aware of the need for uniquely local economic solutions. “We require economic transformation for sustainable growth,” he says. “Creativity will support our economies and give value to homegrown expertise.”
As for his style, a man with such a dynamic approach desires versatility in his wardrobe. “I like to be prepared for any occasion, whether I am visiting a cool, creative space, or meeting the president,” Sibeko says.
Jacket, Etro — “The beaded elbow patches are always a talking point”; shirt and trousers, both Norse Projects — “Danish minimalism is versatile”; classic Eton pocket square; glasses, Oliver Peoples; timepiece, The Drive de Cartier Flying Tourbillon — “An elegant timepiece for any occasion”; bag, Louis Cartier 24-hour bag — “Perfect for short visits to international art fairs”; sneakers, Nike Internationalist — ”A combination of comfort and sleek style.”
Everyday luxury? Good African Coffee, a brand produced and packaged in Uganda. Artist? Blessing Ngobeni and Nandipha Mntambo. Music? Hugh Masekela. Book? Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton: a New History of Global Capitalism.