Black Coffee is distinctive for the way it blurs fabrication and fashion. The sharp structural designs are characterized by complex, layered shapes that yield a fastidious fashion sensibility, that is at once restrained and bold. Despite its exacting geometry, it remains subdued with utterly feminine traits, like fine pleating and intricate ribbon trimmings, so that the garments are right for work wear, yet strikingly befitting of evening wear too.
Jacques van der Watt is a master of discreet style that refines craft, embellishing on traditions like millinery and applique and echoing African motifs, but with a modern verve. He is one of the pioneers of fashion in South Africa, heralding fashion as a standalone industry at a time when it was restricted to occasion-specific garments.
One of the unknown brands at South African Fashion Week, in 1999, the label soon gained attention, and Black Coffee has shown at South African, Cape Town, San Francisco, Berlin, and New York Fashion Weeks.
Nominated five times for the SA Fashion Awards, Black Coffee has won twice – in 2001 and 2007. In 2009, they won the Mercedes Benz Art Award with an installation that was shown at the renowned Daimler contemporary gallery in Berlin.