Marvelous mohair

WORDS Debbie Loots


Although trapped in the backwaters of the Karoo, without a hipster or a flat white in sight, no one was going to pull the wool over Debbie Loots’s eyes about the avant garde future of mohair. Viva the Jansenville International Mohair Summit! 

The small dorpie of Jansenville in the Eastern Cape recently got all fluffed up for its 2013 International Mohair Summit welcoming dignitaries and trendsetters with three days of fine food and wine, and lots of marvelous ideas of what on earth to do with mohair.

Thanks to funds from the industry as well as local and international government, Jansenville’s International Mohair Summit happens annually, which not only helps develop and grow local agriculture and provide jobs, it’s also an opportunity to showcase all the glamorous possibilities of mohair.

And a lot is possible, mohair’s influence reaches far and wide – it’s even big in Japan… well, at least for two of its residents! Incorporating mohair into their garments, seen at the gala-event fashion show, were Kaori Carmen Hotta and Sayo Takemoto. Their creations are really out of this world, so much so, we think they’d even turn British fashion stalwart Vivien Westwood green with envy! Why didn’t she think of it first – she on the forefront of all things fashion? 

Maybe the same reason many others (apart from the US’s first lady Michelle Obama, once, back in 2009) didn’t, which is that mohair is somehow classified as slighty oudedoos (old-fashioned). It is this perception that the Summit organisers are out to redress, among other important issues such as economic possibilities and growth, as well as community empowerment through job creation, of course. 

But back to the fabulous gala-event entailing a professional mohair fashion show in a ginormous white tent on the outskirts of Jansenville’s township with armed guards, flashing police cars and a red carpet as welcome – the stuff of movies! Like we said, the two Japanese students flown in specially to Jansenville, wowed the crowd – East meets West in a dorp where most of its inhabitants probably don’t know the meaning of samurai style. Amazing. Inspiring.

But, local fashion was just as lekker – the top third- and fourth-year Nelson Mandela Metropolis Univeristy design students and alumni – Laduma Ngxokolo and Kelly Esterhuyse – did not take a backseat when models pouted down the catwalk decked out in their fab, futuristic mohair garb. Alexander Mc-who?

The next day was full of inspirational talks, even the one on world economics and where the local agricultural industry fits into it all, had everyone at the edge of their seats (really). The most glamorous guest speaker of all, however, was Colin Cowie whose passion for mohair’s international possibilities had him waxing lyrically – and us swooning!

This New York-based, East London homeboy, took time out of his busy schedule as world-renowned wedding and event planner and BBF of Oprah, to share his view that mohair could be just the thing to put the lux back into luxury. He thinks that the rich man’s extravagances have lost their supershine somewhere along the way when global mainstream production giants shook its money-making possibilities lusterless. Enter mohair!

And, enter the exhibition hall later… Although sparse in its number of exhibitors, it displayed the usual mohair suspects: knee-blankets, throws, cushion and couch covers, socks, gloves and hats, the most interesting a fluffy baby-goat handbag. Then we spotted Colin!

www.mohairsummit.co.za