Menswear fashion label Ephymol was founded in 2002 by Johannesburg-based designer Ephraim Molingoana. Ephymol is known for its unique classic pieces and bold, masculine tailoring. The renowned fashion designer has previously showcased in China, most notably at Shanghai Fashion Week in 2013.
In 2017, he won the SAFW (South African Fashion Week) Cape Wools SA Designer Challenge and represented South Africa at the UK Wool Conference. He’s won several GQ Best Dressed awards, as well as magazine features and covers, and has dressed everyone from public figures to private clients.
His latest spring/summer 2022 menswear collection at SAFW was one of our favourite Top – Picks in the past fashion week. I spoke with Ephraim about his design process, inspirations, and issues and trends in the local fashion industry.
MUZI: Your most recent spring/summer 2022 collection was stunning. What’s the backstory and inspiration for it?
EPHRAIM:I named the collection Up Close and Personal in honour of my 20th year as a designer. For me, the industry has been a rollercoaster ride with highs and lows, very lows and very highs, and for me, it was just a reflection of what I was going through and bringing in those elements and highlighting them.
Another thing that inspires me is what is going on in our society, the country, and the world at large. So, while we are celebrating having all of these beautiful and fabulous lifestyles on one side, other parts of the world are suffering.
MUZI: It was my first time seeing your show. How different was this collection from your previous ones?
EPHRAIM:I “let down my guard” here. I went in the direction that the world is going with fashion again, with big houses and all that, but I was inspired and thinking about how I used to dress as a teenager in the 1990s, hence the wire pants and worked out jackets.
It’s slightly different for me, but we still have that masculinity, so we have a masculine and semi-masculine look and feel to this fluid collection…in today’s terms, but not so fluid because I still want the masculinity and classic elements to come through, which is what makes Ephymol. It’s just a few silhouettes that have been changed here and there and making them more relaxed and softer but still with a bit of an edge.
MUZI: You’ve had an incredible career in fashion; how have you managed to stay relevant and reinvent yourself?
EPHRAIM:I always say that creativity never dies; you can be as old as you want to be. Every day, I tell myself that this is a new chapter in my life. I stay alert, read a lot, and watch the news and various channels. I consume as much as possible in order to build myself so that I can interpret other things.
I am not a designer who does not consider global warming, illness in society, how children are raped, and how women are unsafe. I always reinvent myself by interpreting what is going on in society and the world.
MUZI: What value does a platform like SAFW have for designers?
EPHRAIM: Lucilla Booyzen became quite intelligent with SAFW because she defined Fashion Week in terms of African and South African content.
Yes, it’s an international platform, but she tailor-made it to the South African market so that the designers and audience don’t feel left out, because if I had to go to Europe, I wouldn’t have that kind of money and support, unlike Fashion Week. She tailored it to every designer, whether you’re an aspiring designer, a young and up-and-coming designer, or an established designer.
MUZI: Ethical fashion is the hot topic in the fashion industry right now; what is your brand’s stance on sustainability?
EPHRAIM: If you look at my collection, you’ll notice that I try to use as few fabrics as possible with those that are harmful to the environment, such as too much cotton because it absorbs a lot of water. We used synthetic fabrics and also reworked pre-existing garments. It is about reusing what you have previously used and breathing new life into it.
I’m a sucker for going green and being environmentally conscious. It is critical to me that I do not cause as much harm to the environment as most other brands. If we don’t have power in the building, we simply turn off everything to reduce our energy footprint.
MUZI: What is next for Ephymol after you recently presented a beautiful show?
EPHRAIM: As a designer, I wear many different hats. I am not only a designer, but I also produce fashion shows. I am working on projects such as the Africa Day Show in Mpumalanga, I am collaborating with Thula Sindiin the Africa Rise store, and there are many more things on the horizon. There’s also magazine styling and other things I do as Ephraim aside from being a designer. Keep an eye on this space. I’ve dressed a few Hollywood A-listers; you can look up who I’ve dressed to see who they are.