Alan Foley and Krishen Samuel are well-known for their sometimes controversial take on the fashion industry.
How did you two meet?
We met socially a few years ago and discovered that we have a mutual love for fashion. This was followed up by a few international shopping trips where we firmly established our perspectives on trends and style. We started attending local fashion weeks and became well-known for our personal sense of style. From there, it was really an organic progression in terms of developing our own joint fashion and style brand.
What made you start the “TrendMen” blog?
As we became more influential with fashion designers, members of the media and other industry insiders, the #TrendMen term was frequently used when referring to us. We decided to adopt this as our official title and we have had various offshoots from this: the blog has been one of them and it has now grown into a full website documenting our fashion adventures (www.alanandkrishen.com). In addition, we have also allowed our followers to accompany us into the world of fashion and events on our YouTube channel, TrendMenTV.
You both have a distinct individual style, yet you complement each other beautifully. Can you describe your individual style to us?
We love the fact that we have incredibly different style perspectives and ways of interpreting trends. Alan tends to draw upon more classical menswear styles and adds his own twist to this look. His style icon is Ralph Lauren and more locally, Carducci. Krishen views his style as more urban and contemporary, with an eclectic interpretation of current trends. He tends to favor designers such as Marc Jacobs and Laduma Ngxokolo.
Menswear has seen an explosion locally and internationally in the last couple of years, what do you contribute this sudden interest to?
Men’s fashion has certainly become more spoken about, has generated greater excitement and has evolved into a more recognizable and valid area of creative pursuit. Part of the reason is that men of the modern era are different: they are more inventive with what they wear and they are claiming their rightful place as style icons around the world. The ideas that fashion is solely the domain of women or that it somehow makes a man ‘effeminate’ to be interested in fashion are incredibly dated and passe. Men have always played an integral role in the world of fashion behind the scenes and now it is becoming recognized that they too can be individuals for whom clothes are made for instead of just by.
Who are your stand-out designers locally, and why?
It’s always so difficult to narrow it down! Some designers we absolutely love are: Rich Mnisi, Jenevieve Lyons, Wake, Adriaan Kuiters & Jody Paulsen, AKEDO, Somerset Jane, Touch of Bling and House of Ole. We love the freshness of the creations, the simplicity and sincerity of the designs as well as the ability of these designers to make their visions a reality. They represent a truly modern African aesthetic.
You’ve recently launched your own line of bow ties called #dandyAF. Tell us more about this.
We truly believe that a great accessory can elevate a look from the mundane to the sublime. We have always received compliments on our accessories and we have thus decided to start a diffusion line starting with bow ties. We found that there were limited fabric designs available and thus we thought it would be great to launch a range of original and quirky bow ties for the modern African man. This is just the beginning and we hope to expand to other accessories.
The structure of fashion weeks internationally are being closely scrutinized at the moment – the amount of fashion weeks, who attends/ is allowed to attend, the show to buy concept, are all being discussed. What are your thoughts on the fashion weeks in SA?
We feel that we need a greater amount of consolidation and focus in the South African fashion market. Unfortunately, for the local SA consumer, the world of runway fashion is not readily accessible and this limits the retail potential of garments.
The ‘show to buy’ concept has recently been introduced overseas and has made fashion much more readily accessible. Locally a few designers have already adopted this concept and the resultant sales have indicated that the local consumer is ready for this idea. If we had a more unified and simplified approach to fashion weeks, design, production and sales in South Africa, it might make local fashion design more palatable to the consumer. In terms of who attends fashion weeks, it is crucial to understand that the fashion industry is made up of many different components: the creative side of design is of great importance but the media, buyers and fashion critics are equally important to ensure that the end product is presented to the consumer in a transparent manner.
Social media and fashion are inextricably linked. Is this always a good thing?
Beyond being a good or a bad thing, it is an unavoidable thing. Thus, it is essential that designers understand the power of the social media machine and how rapidly it operates. Social media has replaced more conventional forms of media in terms of spreading the word and generating a buzz. The only drawback is that the immediacy of social media and the seasonal aspect of fashion weeks can often be at loggerheads. Ultimately, designers need to become more social media savvy and realize that this is the future of fashion reporting.