Wednesday, 26 July 2017

SA emerging fashion designers head to London

Fifteen of South Africa’s established and emerging fashion designers are showing off their fashion at Pure London, the United Kingdom’s most anticipated fashion trade show event this week.

The KwaZulu-Natal Fashion Council (KZNFC) has successfully facilitated the travel, accommodation and ground travel of 15 South African fashion designers and emerging fashion exporters to participate in Pure London at Olypmia in Kensington, London from July 23-25, 2017.

On Friday, the KZNFC gave the designers a send-off in Durban. In attendance were its board members, including Mrs Sizakele Moloko, Mrs Lindiwe Khuzwayo, Ms Lethabo Maseko, and the council’s current chairperson Zola Shabangu.

Pure London, which commenced yesterday is set to finish on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. It is the UK's most dynamic fashion and footwear gathering, where over 700 brands are expected to exhibit their work.

Highlighting the industry’s established and emerged designers, Pure London is at the forefront of capturing the surge of current street trends in the fashion industry. The event aims to celebrate the work of international designers worldwide.

The mandate of the KZNFC is to support and uplift the design and fashion sector of KwaZulu-Natal to ensure that the number of designers that receive support from the Council grows each year. Strategic programmes are delivered for junior, emerging and established designers with a focus on previously disadvantaged individuals.

Xolani Zulu, acting managing director of the KZNFC, said the Pure London trade show was important for any business as it was in a commercial location and invaluable for designers who were making inroads. “It is invaluable for any designers’ research into fashion trends,” he said.

Zulu believed that empowering designers was at the heart of the Council’s operational strategy.

From the 15 designers, Zama Mathe, Mike Narainsamy, Thembeka Vilakazi, Sandile Mngadi and Shaun Dugen attended the send-off on Fridayand gave the media a glimpse of some of the clothing they have on offer for the trade show.

“The platforms created by the KZN Fashion Council will always prioritize designers and their creative work. We have also started working on the next instalment of the Africa Fashion Exchange, to be hosted in Africa Month, May 2018,” Zulu said.

The KZNFC partnered with the South African Footwear and Leather Export Council on their international trade show missions in order to open up more designers to international opportunities and expand the amount of trade shows per year.

Zulu added that the KZNFC that would track the progress of the designers after they have returned to ensure that they improve where necessary and dedicate consistency where the Council has done right.

Shabangu said: “The KZN Fashion Council’s mandate is to develop export ready, globally competitive designers from all the 11 municipal districts of the province. We also serve as a vehicle for the national foot-print of development. We have now been tasked with facilitating communication with designers from Cape Town to Johanessburg and Pretoria.”

Maseko, also Project Manager for Clothing and Textile at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (KZN EDTEA) encouraged the designers to use the opportunities given to them grow their brands and “most importantly, to fly the South African flag high”.

“Do your best to market yourselves, establish contacts and make sure that you are able to sustain them. Wear your garments, show that you are proud of your own creations.

Sandile ‘Duke’ Mngadi, one of the designers, said he was planning to use the opportunity to break in the international market and establish networks with international boutiques to distribute his creations.

 Another designer, Thembeka Vilakazi, said: “this opportunity is about learning for me. This is my second time attending the trade show and I want to use this experience to improve on my past experience.”

Khuzwayo also a veteran fashion designer told the designers not to lose focus on the reason of why they were sponsored for the trip.

She said: “Remember this is a privileged opportunity. Be grateful. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done when you get to London. Be informed. Be attentive and respect yourselves. Strive to be in the right frame of mind, always.”

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