Shaylene Morris is a 26-year old entrepreneur and graduate from the University of Johannesburg whose BI PAREL label draws inspiration from Japanese street culture. On Friday, 5 April Morris was announced as the winner of MINI Scouting Menswear at South African Fashion Week making her R50 000 richer with the coverage support of GQ South Africa. We find out how it all started for the designer and how she plans to make her mark in local menswear.
Motivated by mentor and De Mil founder and designer, Shaylene entered MINI Scouting Menswear to not only to showcase her creative expression on a national and global platform but also to win it for all menswear designers who are women. “I’ve always been more attached to the comfort that menswear provided growing up, this just felt like the right choice. There is also so much growth available in menswear, it was never explored or tested to its full potential before and that’s something I would like to do.”
Started in 2017, BI PAREL is a unisex street couture brand that allows Morris an outlet for her passion for detail and pattern work, while creating pieces that are unique and interesting. “Some would say my brand lacks African influence, but truth be told my brand is inspired by contemporary South Africans. Each time I design, I think about my love for Japanese streetwear as well as what my customers (South Africans) would wear and what would drive them to buy a piece of Bi Parel. They [customers] look for something different and I think that’s what I bring.”
Morris’ obsession with Japanese streetwear and traditional clothing started from a young age. Her SA Fashion Week collection is strongly minimal and puts the focus on structure. “The things that stood out for me and what I try to come across, are the geometric shapes and silhouettes used as well as the ability to create dimensions through clean lines, pleats and tucks.”
Having had to demonstrate either a fashion design education or 5 years of design experience in order to qualify for the runway competition, Shaylene had this to say about her win and what it will mean for her brand going forward; “I was definitely not expecting this! With this win, I’d like people to trust what I know. By being associated with GQ, MINI and SAFW on such a big scale, I’m going to leverage that to become a trusted brand alongside them.”