Meet Menzi Mcunu | The 2017 Jameson Select Reserve Man of Character
At this year’s GQ Best Dressed Men of the Year Awards Menzi Mcunu was announced as the 2017 Jameson Select Reserve Man of Character, an award reserved for someone with the confidence to fearlessly go against the grain to pursue his own path – in fashion and in business. When choosing the 2017 Man of Character, Menzi stood out from the crowd because he puts a playful and authentically African twist on formal menswear, which is backed by his inspiring entrepreneurial spirit.
Menzi shares with us his fashion, business and life philosophies:
CHOOSING STYLE AS A CREATIVE MEDIUM
In 2013 Menzi travelled through Bombay, where he got his first made-to-measure suit. He fell in love. When he arrived back home he launched his own fashion label called Afrocentric Gentlemvn. At the time he was in matric, and made suits for his fellow learners. He hasn’t stopped since.
Afrocentric Gentlemvn is a luxury lifestyle brand at the front of the Afro Dandyism movement. “What particularly interests me about dandyism is the pursuit of elegance in all forms of an individual’s existence. I feel like that is how I live.” Beyond just looking good, Menzi wants to tell stories through sartorial. “I am interested in Afro Dandyism as a mode used to redefine black masculinity and break dangerous hyper-masculine stereotypes typically associated with black males.”
Merging his two interests – style and entrepreneurship – is what keeps Menzi busy. He is currently completing a Brand Building and Management degree at Vega in Cape Town. “I can now create fashion pieces, and make that profitable at the same time – which is amazing.”
STYLE BACKED UP BY CHARACTER
When asked about his inspiration, Menzi says “I like to surround myself with people who can challenge the way I think.” His uncle Tshepo Mathakoe, the founder of the Zifferelli brand, sparked his interest in Dandyism at an early age. His personal style is undeniably dandy, but with a uniquely African twist. Beneath this impeccable outer layer lies a true gentleman with a sharp business sense. Style backed up by character. To Menzi “character means having a strong sense of self, and then expressing that in a genuine and authentic way.”
This philosophy is clearly mirrored in his work. “Afrocentric Gentlemvn caters to African men who are busy advancing the African renaissance, but are also global citizens,” he explains. It is apparent that Menzi has an eye for details, which is something he’d like to cultivate in others through his work. “I hope to get South African men to appreciate the details and craftsmanship behind what they wear. After all, the way you dress largely influences the way you are addressed.”
“The next five years are instrumental for me, I want to be one of the defining voices behind Afro Dandyism. I want to take my brand to the global stage and really expose the world to this concept.” Menzi is also planning to start a foundation which focuses on grooming and educating young black men, and has been working on an Afro Dandy exhibition which celebrates the inspirations behind the movement. Stay tuned!