A Cape Town, South Africa-based designer who was born and raised in Thailand, Chu Suwannapha is the founder of the print-heavy menswear brand Chulaap. Though he first launched the label over 20 years ago in his home country, it took somewhat of a backseat when he moved to South Africa. Well known locally for his lengthy tenures as fashion director for local magazines FairLady, You, Huisgenoot and Drum, he’s been dubbed the “Prince of Prints” by the South African media; one glance at the kaleidoscopic patterns that feature in his garments and it becomes abundantly clear why.
Chulaap’s aesthetic is unmistakable. Saturated in vibrant colors and rendered from bold, eccentrically-printed fabrics that are often based on traditional African patterns, the unisex label offers customers classic silhouettes including multi-hued cardigans, crewneck swearters, ponchos and bucket hats with a quirky spin. According to Suwannapha, his collections are inspired by South African streetwear trends and in accordance with his flair for eclectic, origami-like shapes, floral prints, and geometric prints.
“My passion is creating happy fashion,” he told Nataal. “Using colour, textures, shapes and forms all at the same time to create something that is inspired by contemporary Africa. And of course, made in Africa.”
Since reigniting his Chulaap brand in 2015 Suwannapha has shown his collections at SA Menswear Fashion Week and Digital Fashion Week, and in 2018, he took home the award for Best Menswear Collection at the Durban Fashion Fair. Suwannapha has also been profiled by some of the world’s top fashion publications including Vogue Italia.
- Durban Fashion Fair, Best Menswear Award, 2018