Thebe Magugu’s ‘Heirloom Shirts’ Project Celebrates Memory And Meaningful Connections

South African designer Thebe Magugu has just launched his most ambitious and unique project to date. Dubbed Heirloom Shirts, the venture will provide customers with the opportunity to personalise wax print blouses with images of their own friends and family. Intended to resituate the power of historical importance into the hands of the wearer, the 2019 LVMH Prize winner hopes to encourage the immortalisation of people who have had a personal and emotional impact on those around them.  

With a design lexicon peppered with long-standing and collective narratives, the shirts are rooted in South African craftsmanship. Featuring a traditional shweshwe design and referencing how African wax prints often bare images of important cultural figures, the idea challenges popularised historical idolism. In a sun-tinged video campaign inspired by recollections of 1950s designers and their behind-the-scenes movements, Magugu explains the endeavor from across a dinner table. Donning his own Heirloom Shirt – which depicts his late grandmother as she prays – the feature marks Magugu’s first campaign cameo. A touching and emotional tribute, the designer hopes to emphasise the symbolic importance these shirts can hold.

Available in three distinct colour-ways – sky blue, candy pink and lime green – the offering is unisex and caters to a range of sizes from extra small to double extra large. Cut from a semi-matte satin material, the shirts are set to retain tangible value as well as emotional; each customer will also receive an NFT version of their ordered garment. The project – which has set its capacity at 400 shirts – will open for pre-orders exclusively on Magugu’s website from October 6 to October 22, with worldwide delivery scheduled for December 10. All you have to do is log on to and upload via a portal an image of someone dear to you, then Thebe Magugu will create a custom wax print exclusively for you. A clear display of Magugu’s apititude for innovative ideas and creative flare, the project highlights the power of clothing as a vessel for meaningful connection, remembrance and appreciation.  

Photography courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

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