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SA designer launches microchipped clothing collection

A South African fashion designer is pioneering the merge between technology and fashion, launching a new collection featuring microchips.

Thebe Magugu/Facebook

Thebe Magugu microchip | House and Leisure

As one of the youngest fashion designers and first African to win the prestigious LMVH award, Thebe Magugu continues to shake up the industry with the launch of his microchipped Prosopography SS20 collection of garments. 

The microchipped garments are a result of a partnership with Verisium, a popular iOT platform for the fashion industry that aims to foster customer engagement and product authentication. 

In an official statement shared on social media, Magugu provides some insight into the collaboration with Verisium.

'All garments purchased from Prosopography SS20 will include a Verisium microchip in the main Thebe Magugu label that, if tapped with a smartphone using the Verisium App, will reveal all my research and interviews conducted on the inspiration behind the collection, that being the women of the Black Sash,' he said. 

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Thebe Magugu microchip | House and Leisure
Black Sash women protesting in Cape Town, 1955. Copyright of National Library of South Africa, Cape Town Campus


The young 26-year-old designer believes that not enough light is shed on the efforts of the Black Sash and the role the non-violent women's organsiation played in protesting against the human rights violations during the apartheid era. 

'When people think of South Africa’s history and its heroes, its all too often the men who come to mind. The Black Sash were a phenomenal group of women, who put themselves in a direct line of danger protecting P.O.C during our country’s dark past.'

During the creation of his latest collection, Magugu was inspired be the lives the Black Sash women lived during the apartheid era. 

'I had the privilege of speaking to one of its members, who told me in the morning, she would cook for her husband and children in a conservative day dress and after they left for school and work, she would wear jeans, boots and an anorak to go out and protest. It got me thinking about the "double lives" these women had to lead to survive,' explains Magugu. 

Thebe Magugu microchip | House and Leisure
Scanning the Red Twill Coat, made from High Twist Twill + Recycled Polyester (Plastic Bottles)


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The technology employed is not a QR code only, but the Verisium technology facilitates constant communication with users and owners of the garments as it sends notifications to users smartphones.

Magugu has created a collection that is more than just a chic and stylish clothing item, it is embedded with a rich history that educates owners on where and who has made their new favourite item. 

Thebe Magugu microchip | House and Leisure
Thebe Magugu Basotho Poncho, made from Cotton


Users are provided information regarding fabrication, compositions along with the names and faces of everyone invovled in the production of the one-of-a-kind garment. 

Magugu has encouraged the public to read his essay behind the concept of the new collection. 

'Read my full essay (with recommended reading) when you scan garments from SS20, coming to key stores soon.' 

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