35 of 2018


Newsletter No. 35                                                                                14 September  2018

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DFF 2018 tackles youth unemployment through entrepreneurship

By Steven J Brown

The revitalisation of Durban’s fashion industry could be the ultimate rags to riches story and the annual Durban Fashion Fair (DFF), which is hosted by the eThekwini Municipality, could play a significant role in providing jobs for the city’s talented youth.

This year’s event, which takes place between September 19 and 22 at the Durban ICC, will showcase the work of 40 South African designers and nine designers from the rest of the continent.

While there are some big names and established designers such as Amanda Laird Cherry, Karen Monk Klingstra and Chu Suwannapha included, the largest portion of participating designers are under 35.

According to Stats SA, the national youth unemployment rate (15 to 34 year-olds) is approximately 40 percent. A large proportion are graduates. Durban has a number of tertiary institutions, many of which teach fashion design.

In light of this, Honourable Mayor of the eThekwini Municipality, Cllr Zandile Gumede, says she is particularly proud of the mentorship programme which culminates in the DFF.  Each year, a group of young talents are handpicked and mentored in order to make their debut into this extremely tough sector a little easier. Overall, approximately 200 young designers have completed the DFF mentorship programme.  This year, 20 mentees participated.

The theme for this year’s event Afrofuturism. “We hear about the unfolding fourth industrial revolution and the impact of technology and disruption on companies. But, sometimes, it is also good to start with the basics and inculcate a belief in the future of the African fashion industry in our youth. We may not have many large clothing manufacturers to snap up our new talents but we do have a spirit of entrepreneurship that is alive and well and could create thriving new businesses going forward,” says Gumede.

An example is Mxolisi Mkhize (House of St Luke) who made an entrance at the DFF 2012. “My Business has grown from strength to strength. I have grown as a business man and I see tremendous growth in revenue,” he says.  In just six years, Mkhize has created jobs for an illustrator, pattern maker, a personal assistant and three cutters and machinists.

Treasure Cindi, who participated in 2012/2013, shares the benefits with others. “When I joined, I was fresh out of Varsity. The programme exposed me to the real and actual world of fashion and textiles. Through the DFF mentorship programme, the ‘TREASURE CINDI’ brand is now well known in Durban and around KZN. Every year, I take on one or two fashion interns from the fashion schools in Durban and I mentor them for four to six weeks during their school breaks. That way, I can show them how it really is in the real world and what to expect after graduating.”

Martin John Steenkamp, who participated in the mentorship programme in 2016, is also spreading his wings. “My label has grown so much. We have better equipment and I have employed someone to assist with the patterns, client consultations as well as production,” he says.

The DFF was launched in 2012 as part of the Durban Business Fair. It began with just six shows and 12 designers on a single evening and has since grown into a four night, standalone event that culminates in the DFF Recognition Awards which not only commend established players but identify and reward future talents.  Because of the importance of imparting both strong technical and business skills, it comes as no surprise that this year’s DFF now celebrating seven years, will again be running alongside to the Durban Business Fair.

Gumede explains that the eThekwini Municipality will be celebrating 20 years since the inception of the Durban Business Fair. As a child of the DBF, it seemed fitting that the DFF would support and celebrate it.  “During the day, the combined event will focus on the business programme.

In the evenings, it will focus specifically on fashion. We will have an average of four fashion shows over four days,” she explains.  From the outset, the DFF was created to wow not only the media, fashion buyers and the industry at large but also the general public – and this year is no different.  In fact, it is even more important as the future of the fashion industry in Durban means developing support for locally produced clothing rather than a continued pre-occupation with imported brands.  The DFF provides an important opportunity to re-educate and even convert local consumers and to convince them that local designers have the talent and know-how to develop products that can compete with or even trump imports.  “The DFF is an important tool to show case local talent and show the consumer the ability, the creativity, the quality and the pricing of locally produced garments,”

Greg Wallis, owner of D&G Apparel and heads up this year’s mentorship programme, points out.   Given that there are also indications that local retail chains are also returning to shopping locally, it is important to prepare young talents to seize opportunities.  Wallis attributes the uptick in local manufacture down to a poor rand dollar exchange rate, reduced incentives for exports from the government of China where the majority of imports originate, higher domestic demand in China and long lead times to get orders on to shelves in South Africa.  “We can turn this to our advantage. By transferring skills and training young people, the catch-up can begin,” he says.

Wallis believes that, even in a flat economy where disposable income is constrained and spending on fashion is low, new comers and existing members of the industry can do well.  They just have to box smarter!




“One should either be a work of art or wear a work of art” Oscar Wilde in Good Reads (2018a)

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only.  Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening” Coco Chanel in Goodreads.com (2018b)

“As with art, the cultural relevance of fashion as a mirror of the habits and tastes of times past needs no proof.  Fashion as an artefact of culture teaches us about our and other societies’ histories.  However, the line between fashion and art becomes more blurred when we look to more current instances of how fashion is presented” (Siska Lyssens 2012)

The Durban University of Technology’s, Department of Fashion and Textiles will hold its annual Fashion Show from Thursday, 4 to Friday, 5 October 2018 at the Fred Crookes Sports Centre on the Steve Biko Campus in Durban. The coveted event will showcase the designs of 25 third year students with the best 25 ranges showcased at the gala evening, on Friday 5 October.

This year’s panel of judges will include established personnel from the local fashion/design industry, and sponsored prizes will be awarded to the best designers in the categories of Most Innovative Range, Best Range on Show, Most Commercial Range, Best Menswear Range, Best Technical Student and a Recognition Award.

According to the 3rd year design lecturer and creative director, Gideon for the 2018 theme “Art of Fashion”, students have been given a blank canvas, for which the cut, fabric, proportion, detailing and composition should form together to present a final painting.

Commenting on this year’s Fashion Show theme, Gideon said, “self-expression is our most basic form of art and without saying a word we can convey who we are, what we believe and give a piece of ourselves to be captured forever. As an artist paints his beliefs, sketches his idea of beauty, sculpts his emotion, photographs his hurt, installs his love and then invades a gallery space to tell his story; we do so daily when we dress the outward expression of who we are and want to exhibit”.

Meena Bagwandin, the third year pattern and garment technology lecturer outlines that the show affords the students a platform to expose their current talent by meeting and fulfilling the theme of the show, with a strong focus on quality, and the class of 2018 have extended themselves by incorporating fabric printing as well as fabric manipulation techniques to enhance their designs.

Through the “Art of Fashion” theme, students will present a range of eye-opening designs, says Sunthra Moodley, the HOD of Fashion and Textiles. The student ranges are an expression of their identity and their collection, it is also reflective of their personal development, style and character. The ranges are diverse, innovative and visually creative.

Tickets for the show cost R50.00 for Thursday and R60.00 for Friday and will be available @ COMPUTICKET and at the door.

For more information, please contact:   Sunthra Moodley (031 3733711  sunthram@dut.ac.za)   Biliks Razak (031 3733750   bilkisr@dut.ac.za)

Brand Kenya Board-FAA deal to boost local fashion brands

The Brand Kenya Board, a government corporation set up to enhance the country’s image and identity, recently signed a one-year deal with Fashion Agenda Africa (FAA), an initiative by a group of fashion industry visionaries from across Africa, to boost the country’s fashion industry and enhance meaningful conversation between the government and the industry.

The two sides will create awareness and encourage Kenyans to prefer domestic fashion brands, according to a report in a Kenyan news portal.

The labour-intensive textiles and apparels sector has been mapped out as a priority sector under manufacturing pillar of the Big 4 national development blueprint as well as the Kenya Industrial Transformation Program. F2F

Javid Merchant to set up pharma, textile units in Uganda

Investor of Indian origin Javid Merchant recently met ambassador Joseph Ocwet, director general of external security organisation in Uganda, in connection with his investment of over $10 million in pharmaceutical and textile industries there. The two met at the office of the president as Merchant awaits allocation of land in an industrial park.

This was Merchant’s second visit to Uganda to carry out feasibility studies, according to an Ugandan daily.

The pharmaceutical plant will in its initial phase employ over 100 and the textile factory will create over 1,000 jobs. The pharmaceutical plant will be built at a cost of $5 million and the rest will be spent on the textile unit.

Did you know……..

While lots of things are increasing in price, clothing is actually decreasing. Since 1992, the price of clothes has gone down by 8.5%.

Bras have been through different styles over the years, but you can now purchase a bra that can also be used as a gas mask.

On the subject of bras, the famous author Mark Twain (who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) was the inventor of the bra clasp.


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