Newsletter No 27/22 July 2022
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The Homegrown talent behind the Commonwealth Games opening Ceremony Ensemble
By Steven J Brown
Durban designers do it again: The countdown to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is in full swing and the young designers recruited to create Team South Africa’s kit for the Games’ opening ceremony are eagerly awaiting the moment their locally designed – and developed – kit takes to the world stage.
The proudly South African kit was unveiled at a fashion show event held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC-Durban) on Thursday, July 14 in collaboration with Mr Price Sport, the KZN Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, the EThekwini Municipality, the Durban ICC and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
The Commonwealth Games, or the ‘Friendly Games’ as it is also known, is an international, multi-sport event that takes place every four years and the Games have grown exponentially over the decades to its current spectacle of 6,600 athletes from 72 nations.
The 22nd Commonwealth Games will burst into life on July 28 and the curtain comes down on August 8. The event is expected to have a global audience of between 1 and 1.5-billion viewers. As one of the young designers involved in the opening ceremony kit creation, Sandile Sikhakhane, aptly exclaimed when asked about his involvement in the project, “Showcase! One-and-a-half-billion people watching-perfect!”
The ensemble that will be seen by this huge audience was created in collaboration with the Commonwealth Games’ technical apparel partner, Mr Price Sport, as well as The City of Durban who played a crucial role in recruiting the creatives.
The same young Durban designers who brought us the Team SA kit worn by our Olympians at the opening ceremony in Tokyo last year have been roped in once again. This year, however, the design process has unfolded differently. The team of four joined forces to create the bold print seen across the kit, while Durban Fashion Fair designer, and Class of 2021 fashion student, Nontsasa Benstwana, brought the look together in her final design.
It all started with a creative collaboration of Sikhakhane, Mbali Zulu, Sipho Lushaba and Nompumelelo Mjadu who worked tirelessly to produce multiple prints. Their inspiration? All things South African, of course. From the discovery of diamonds and South African royalty to the bold colours that make up our country and our flag. Their various designs were then broadcast across Mr Price Sport’s social following who then picked the final print to be used across the range. And then it was over to designer, Nontsasa, to work her visionary magic.
What can Team SA’s supporters expect to see our athletes sporting at the Commonwealth Games opening display? Our male athletes will step out in a shirt emblazoned with the fans’ chosen print, as well as a pair of chinos and Maxed Elite Zeus trainers; while the sportswomen will wear a bold, tiered maxi skirt sporting the winning print, paired with a cropped linen shirt, and Mr Price Sport’s ever-popular Nova trainers.
President of SASCOC, Mr Barry Hendricks said: “Team SA really caught the eye at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in their Mr Price Sport kit. They were the envy of many other nations from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony and all the competition in between. Having seen the designs and kit for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, we are expecting the reaction in Birmingham to be no different.
“Congratulations to all these inspiring young designers who have used their creative skills to come up with something truly South African and kit that will be worn with pride by Team SA’s athletes at the opening ceremony. We are going to look outstanding not only during competition, but away from it as well as on the medals podium,” Mr Hendricks added.
The EThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda congratulated the designers, “These designers are part of our signature Durban Fashion Fair Development Programme which mentors emerging designers. To see our programme recognised by Mr Price Sport is a heart-warming success story. Their work will be seen by the entire world, which is a huge deal. Our core aim through this programme is to encourage self-employment by empowering young designers,” added Mayor Kaunda.
KZN MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture Ms Hlengiwe Mavimbela said: “We are excited that this important milestone on the journey towards the Birmingham later this month, takes place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. We will be watching the 2022 Commonwealth Games with keen interest, as you are aware that they could have been hosted here in Durban, but circumstances beyond our control did not allow for that to happen. However, we are happy that Team South Africa will be part of these games and we look forward to them returning home with more medals. We congratulate Mr Price Sport and their team of designers for the good work in designing the kit for Team South Africa, especially the involvement of developing fashion designers.”
The visionaries behind the designs
Self-taught sewist, director of her own label Jado Mjadu, and Lindiwe Fashion Skills Academy graduate, Nompumelelo Mjadu shares the highlight of the latest design collaboration. “I really enjoyed working with the same designers. After having worked together before, it was easy and effortless working as a team to come up with the final print design.”
Director his own label, SVL Designs (a label for dreamers, comprising uniquely designed, timeless garments) and Lindiwe Fashion Skills Academy graduate, Sipho Lushaba shares how it feels being part of a project of this magnitude for the second year running, “Sharing ideas with like-minded creatives was amazing. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product. The whole project has been mind-blowing.”
Multimedia Fine Arts graduate and director of his own brand, sAnd!Le_da_creActive, Sandile Sikhakhane shares his biggest learning from designing in a team, “Working together, considering all ideas and unity is what helped us easily come up with a final design that we’re all proud to call our own.”
Durban Institute of Technology graduate and founder of clothing label, ZuluM, Mbali Zulu’s mission is to offer exclusive and original designs for today’s fashion-conscious African customers. Mbali shares what she loved most about the collaboration, “I loved working together as the four designers. We’re all unique, we’re all different, I loved that we got the chance to work together to make magic once again.”
The final stage in the design process concluded with Durban Fashion Fair designer, and Class of 2021 fashion student, Nontsasa Benstwana who created the final opening ceremony elements. These then went through a final selection process where the Mr Price Sport sponsorship and merchandise teams picked the piece the athletes will step out in. “I never once imagined that I would be chosen for a project like this. It is a great opportunity. I believe this is a start of bigger and greater opportunities to come.”
Once the opening ceremony concludes, Team SA’s athletes will compete in Maxed Elite technical apparel, Mr Price Sport’s premium range of active wear and accessories.
Mr Price Sport’s Head of Marketing, Philippa Feher, said: “It has been another incredible journey leading up to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games with one of the most exciting aspects being the design and production of the opening ceremony kit. Like our athletes, the kit too was truly homegrown… designed by our young South African designers, voted on by our country and produced on local shores.
“We were delighted to keep it local. Wearing a South African brand like Maxed Elite on the world stage continues to inspire our Team SA athletes. It’s always a proud moment.” Fashion, Lifestyle, Trends
Ethical fashion: How transparent are the world’s biggest brands?
The world’s largest fashion brands and retailers must increase transparency to tackle the climate crisis and social inequality, according to the latest Fashion Transparency Index released by non-profit organisation Fashion Revolution.
The seventh edition of the index ranks 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers based on their public disclosure of human rights and environmental policies, practices, and impacts across their operations and supply chains. Fashion brands Max Mara, Tom Ford and Jil Sander ranked among the lowers for transparency, scoring 0%.
The majority of brands (85%) do not disclose their annual production volumes despite mounting evidence of clothing waste around the world, and most major brands and retailers (96%) do not publish the number of workers in their supply chain paid a living wage.
The Fashion Transparency Index reveals insights into the most pressing issues facing the fashion industry, such as:
• As new and proposed legislation focuses on greenwashing claims, almost half of major brands (45%) publish targets on sustainable materials yet only 37% provide information on what constitutes a sustainable material.
• Only 24% of major brands disclose how they minimise the impacts of microfibres despite textiles being the largest source of microplastics in the ocean.
• The vast majority of major brands and retailers (94%) do not disclose the number of workers in their supply chains who are paying recruitment fees. This paints an unclear picture of the risks of forced labour as workers may be getting into crippling debt to accept jobs paying poverty wages.
• While many brands use their channels to talk about social justice, they need to go beyond lip service. Just 8% of brands publish their actions on racial and ethnic equality in their supply chains.
Despite these disappointing results, Fashion Revolution says it’s encouraged by increasing supply chain transparency among many major brands, primarily with first-tier manufacturers where the final stage of production occurs, e.g. cutting, sewing, finishing and packing. Nine brands have disclosed their first-tier manufacturers for the first time this year.
Fashion Revolution’s cofounder and global operations director Carry Somers says: “In 2016, only five out of 40 major brands (12.5%) disclosed their suppliers. Seven years later, 121 out of 250 major brands (48%) disclose their suppliers. This clearly demonstrates how the index incentivises transparency but it also shows that brands really are listening to the millions of people around the world who keep asking them #WhoMadeMyClothes? Our power is in our persistence.”
Highest scoring brands
Italian brand OVS scored highest again this year with 78%, tied with Kmart Australia and Target Australia, who increased their scores by 22 percentage points vs 2021.
This is followed by H&M, The North Face and Timberland who are tied at 66%. The biggest movers this year are Calzedonia Group brands (Calzedonia, Intimissimi and Tezenis) who increased their score by to 54%, a significant improvement compared to last year’s 11%.
Lowest scoring brands
Seventeen major brands score a dismal 0% rating including: Jil Sander, Fashion Nova, New Yorker, Max Mara, Semir, Tom Ford, Helian Home, Belle, Big Bazaar, Elie Tahari, Justfab, K-Way, Koovs, Metersbonwe, Mexx, Splash and Youngor. A total of 73 brands score in the 0-10% range – that’s almost a third of the world’s largest brands and retailers.
More key findings from 2022 index
Progress on transparency in the global fashion industry is still too slow among 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers, with brands achieving an overall average score of just 24%, up 1% from last year
“For another year, we have seen major brands and retailers publicly disclose the most information about their policies, commitments and processes on human rights and environmental topics and significantly less about the results, outcomes and impacts of their efforts,” says Fashion Revolution.
Most (85%) major brands still do not disclose their annual production volumes despite mounting evidence of overproduction and clothing waste
Thousands of tonnes of clothing waste are found globally. Brands have disclosed more information about the circular solutions they are developing (28%) than on the actual volumes of pre- (10%) and post-production waste they produce (8%). “Brands have sat by as waste-importing countries foot the bill, resulting in serious human rights and environmental implications,” notes Fashion Revolution.
Just 11% of brands publish a responsible purchasing code of conduct indicating that most are still reluctant to disclose how their purchasing practices could be affecting suppliers and workers
Greater transparency on how brands interact with their suppliers ought to be a first step towards eliminating harmful practices and promoting fair purchasing practices, according to the NPO. The poor performance on transparency in this vital area is a missed opportunity for brands to demonstrate they are serious about addressing the root causes of harmful working conditions, including the instances where they themselves are the key driver.
Despite the urgency of the climate crisis, less than a third of major brands disclose a decarbonisation target covering their entire supply chain which is verified by the Science-Based Targets Initiative
Many brands and retailers rely heavily on garment-producing countries that are vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis, yet Fashion Revolution’s research shows that only 29% of major brands and retailers publish a decarbonisation target covering their operations and supply chain, which is verified by the Science Based Targets Initiative.
Only 11% of brands publish their supplier wastewater test results, despite the textile industry being a leading contributor to water pollution
Fashion Revolution points out that the fashion industry is a major contributor to water pollution and one of the most water-intensive industries on the planet. Only 11% of major brands publish their wastewater test result, and only 25% of brands disclose the process of conducting water-related risk assessments in their supply chain.
Transparency on wastewater test results is key to ensuring that brands are held accountable for their potentially devastating impacts on local biodiversity, garment workers and their communities.
Most major brands and retailers (96%) do not publish the number of workers in their supply chain paid a living wage nor do they disclose if they isolate labour costs
According to Fashion Revolution, insufficient progress is being made by most brands towards ensuring that the workers in their supply chain are paid enough to cover their basic needs and put aside some discretionary income. Just 27% of brands disclose their approach to achieving living wages for supply chain workers and 96% do not publish the number of workers in their supply chain paid a living wage.
“In response, we have joined forces with allies across civil society to launch Good Clothes, Fair Pay. The campaign demands groundbreaking living wage legislation across the garment, textile and footwear sector. We are collecting one million signatures from EU citizens from 19th July 2022,” the NPO comments.
Fashion Revolution’s policy and research manager Liv Simpliciano believes that greater transparency is crucial in order to address the root cause of many of fashion’s social and environmental issues featured in the Fashion Transparency Index.
“It is frustrating to see brands’ continued lack of transparency on critical issues like their waste volumes, carbon and water footprints and workers being paid a living wage. When there is a lack of transparency on the issue itself, we cannot reasonably understand if what is being done is robust enough to drive the impact we so urgently need.
“Transparency empowers civil society and workers’ representatives and until brands publicly disclose all the information necessary to hold them accountable for their impacts, being un-transparent feels like a deliberate strategy to reinforce the status quo.” Bizcommunity
First ever Africa Textile Talks three-day hybrid event
Winter Wool Festival in Middelburg, Eastern Cape 24-26 June 2022. Shot for Twyg by Samantha Reinders
Highlights Press Release
Did you get a chance to physically or virtually join in to the first ever Africa Textile Talks event?
Farm-to-fashion strategies are a hot sustainable fashion topic. But, what does this mean and what does it look like for farmers, producers, designers, retailers and the industry at large?
Together with the Imiloa Collective, Karoo Winter Wool Festival, Cape Wools SA, and experienced panels of industry professionals, Twyg successfully hosted a three-day hybrid of online and in-person events which took place between Mauritius, Cape Town and Middelburg to unpack this central question and more in their discussions.
From think tanks to interviews, workshops to mending cafes and wool markets, information and experiences about farming regeneratively, botanical dyeing, traditional crafts, fashion designing and styling with natural fibres, upcycling, and so much more was discussed and practised. Catch up on the online discussions on YouTube channel.
The key take aways from the event were that:
Ethical fashion and design can be a catalyst for social and economic change in Africa
Stylists, as image-makers, are key to encouraging creativity over consumption
Natural dyes address pollution in the fashion industry while helping us redefine our relationship with our clothes
We must not overlook low-technology solutions
We need to go beyond ‘fashion for fashion’s sake’ and see textiles as archives, cultural artifacts, and storytelling mediums
By The Daily Vox Team
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