Kaunda Selisho
Lifestyle Journalist
4 minute read
2 Feb 2021
4:18 pm

Rich Mnisi’s R60k ‘xibelani’ sends shockwaves across social media

Kaunda Selisho

Perhaps the price tag comes from the fact that it is crafted from 5km of 100% merino wool.

Models show off the R60,000 Rich Mnisi 'xibelani' skirt crafted from 100% merino wool. Picture: Screenshot

When it comes to selling any kind of product, one way to get people talking about what you have to offer is to place a hefty price tag on an item they would otherwise expect to pay significantly less for.

South African designer Rich Mnisi (stylised as RICH MNISI) did just that when his label debuted a R59,999 xibelani skirt for sale on their website.

The R60,000 Rich Mnisi xibelani skirt crafted from 100% merino wool. Picture: Screenshot

The word xibelani (pronounced shee-beh-lah-nee) is of Tsonga origin and refers to both a type of dance and the traditional skirt worn by women during that dance. The word itself translates to “hitting to the rhythm”.

Traditionally, the skirt, often knee-length, was worn around the waist of women set to dance at traditional gatherings and celebrations.

However, in recent years, Tsonga women from all walks of life have found new and interesting ways to rock this item – usually reserved for special occasions – in a more casual, modern way.

One such woman is artist Sho Madjozi, who made the item part of her signature style.

ALSO READ: Rich Mnisi launches premium mask range amid Covid pandemic

The history of Xibelani

The skirts are said to have originally been made with accordion-pleated fabric and later, with wool – a style that has come to be more mainstream.

One designer who has embraced the wool style is Shikombiso Bila of Maxelo Style (pronounced mah-shelo).

Her pricing begins at R1000 for small-to-medium xibelanis size 28-34 and goes up from there. Large xibelanis, size 36 and above, start at R1500.


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Brand Novità Heartsmile also sells a version of the wool xibelani with pricing as follows:

Baby up to 3 years – R550
Kids up to 10 years – R750
Teen sizes from 11 years – R1000
Adults size 30 to 36 – R1400

An additional R80 is added to the pricing per dress size thereafter.

So how exactly did Rich Mnisi get a R60,000 xibelani price tag?

Perhaps the price tag comes from the fact that the Rich Mnisi xibelani skirt is crafted from 5km of 100% merino wool, knotted onto nickel-plated d-rings attached to a leather belt made of 100% genuine calf nappa leather.

The merino is a sheep breed prized for its wool. A Wikipedia entry bills it as is one of the most historically relevant and economically influential breeds of sheep.

A description of the Rich Mnisi xibelani skirt crafted from 100% merino wool. Picture: Screenshot

According to Core Merino, a local brand that sells expert running gear made from the special wool, “merino wool helps to regulate body temperature and keep you dry as the fibre naturally absorbs and releases moisture, which means less sweat on your body and on your clothes”.

“It resists the build-up of odour molecules allowing you to wear merino garments more and wash them less.”

The brand boasts that the material is also biodegradable, static resistant, breathable and elastic in addition to a number of impressive features.

A recent Moneyweb article had the wool priced at R253.82 a kilogram due to a recent slump in the rand.

READ NEXT: Here’s how much the coveted Rich Mnisi scarf will cost you

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