SA's political 'fashion parade'

The diverse political regalia seen this year has changed political party fan walks into a catwalk.

EFF members pose for a photo at the party's final elections rally on Sunday 31 July. Picture: @simamkeleD via Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - EFF leader Julius Malema has taken shots at the African National Congress over a reported R1 billion spent on what he says was a "fashion parade" during the municipal election campaigns.

Malema was speaking at the Independent Electoral Commission's national results centre on Friday afternoon.

Taking aim at the ruling party, he said, "We are paying for necessary things, not luxury, not dabbing (dancing). Those things they were doing for a fashion parade and now there is nice clothes (sic). I like these elections because a lot of them went to buy new clothes for the celebration and now the celebration is not happening"

There is no doubt the diverse political regalia that politicians and their parties' supporters have worn this year has changed political party fan walks into a catwalk.

Party leaders no longer just wear berets or caps paired with a simple golf shirt and chinos.

Instead, we have been introduced to more interesting and fashionable pieces that embody today's fashion trends.

President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa were spotted in "stylish" (or are they garish?) ANC biker jackets at the ruling party's final rally on Sunday at Emirates Airline Park.

Kutlo Marumo, who holds a license to sell ANC-branded clothing, owns a successful store in Johannesburg.

Marumo has been in business for over a year now and says he saw a spike in the demand for trendy clothing items like jumpsuits during the election campaigning period.

"There [was] a high demand for ladies' jumpsuits. It's a new trend, leading to a demand for the product. The doek (head scarf) is more of a fashion statement."

Dressed by ANC Merchandise store Gandi square #myanc #asinavalo #ancmyhome #siyanqobarally #ImportantBrands

A photo posted by ANC Live (@ancmerchandise) on

#Voteanc #ancrules #powertothepeople #asinavalo #myanc

A photo posted by ANC Live (@ancmerchandise) on

Trend analyst Nicola Cooper says, "The significance of clothing and its political associative value is great. That's why there are colours aligned to these specific political parties. What happens in a way is the various members of the parties use the basis of the uniform to recreate a more individual style."

She added that while some will wear the clothing simply as a fashion statement, the regalia is a strong indicator of one's allegiance with a political party.

"Fashion is based on the theory of semiotics, which is really coding and under coding, so when we wear something we are telling people about ourselves. So most of our decision making power is made by our subconscious, clothing plays a very big part in identifying moods and expressions. Fashion is a conscious message that we are sending across."

Designer David Tlale has done his fair share of work for political party members and often advised ministers.

Speaking on outfits that made it to his best dressed list, Tlale said, "We have seen the evolution of political regalia since 1994 and how people make it fashionable and fascinating. It's not just politics; in fashion people have to move on and really embrace the current trends."

In the age of selfies, OOTD (that's outfit of the day to the uninitiated) and fashion bloggers, clothes have never been more important in sending out a clear message of who we are.