28 June 2011

Standing in support of the fashion industry

Cape Town’s fashion industry is set to benefit from African Fashion International’s (AFI) “big picture” approach to fashion.

Joburg Fashion Week Celebrating an iconic city

“The opportunity to create more jobs for unemployed seamstresses through projects like The Global Robing Project is also very exciting for me.Innovation is important, and at the centre of innovation is sustainability. AFI will continue to engage the public and all key stake holders in an attempt to raise awareness and learn more about sustainable and ethical practices.” says Dr Moloi-Motsepe.

AFI positions fashion as a key to developing business, driving tourism, and aiding development in the clothing sector and encouraging sustainable luxury. The vehicle to achieve this approach is Cape Town Fashion Week, taking place from 13-16 July 2011.

AFI sees fashion as a business platform that can steer development in upcoming designers; grow the commercial viability of the fashion sector and highlight new trends, such as “sustainable luxury”. These aspects, along with fashion tourism, are the four pillars Cape Town Fashion Week is based on. These pillars signify AFI’s “looking forward and beyond the event” approach to fashion in South Africa.

As with Joburg Fashion Week 2011, developing young design talent is one of the goals. Foschini AFI Fastrack Day is a developmental initiative aimed at fast tracking the careers of students and graduates in both the design and retail industries. As a follow-on from Foschini AFI Fastrack Day in Johannesburg, CTFW will feature a graduate design competition together with a strong recruitment focus, interactive workshops, street fashion and entertainment. Experts from Foschini will be on hand to facilitate workshops, taking interested students and graduates through the entire supply chain process within the retail cycle. The prize for the Foschini graduate design competition on Foschini AFI Fastrack day is an intensive internship programme for three designers. This will culminate in a capsule collection being sold in 3 flagship stores around the country.

With the support of South African Tourism, the Cape Town Fashion Council, and Cape Town Tourism, AFI have invited select design powerhouses to present their Spring/ Summer 2011/12 collections at various iconic venues around the city, with the Cape Town International Convention Centre as the main venue. As one of the top ten tourist destinations in the world, Cape Town is no ordinary city. So it stands to reason that the CTICC would be no ordinary convention centre. And the fact that, in just five short years, it has become widely regarded as one of the leading convention centres in the southern hemisphere bears testimony to this fact.

AFI’s point of distinction is that designers are selected through a strict curatorial process by a panel of industry experts and invited to show.

This year’s CTFW line-up of local designers include; Thula Sindi, Leigh Schubert, Gavin Rajah and Abigail Betz, who will present their unique interpretations of the upcoming season’s hottest trends.

Other popular designers invited to showcase their collections include: Daniella Margaux, Habits, Undacova, Dax Martin, Lisp, Nucleus, Lalesso, Tart, Michelle Ludek, House of Monatic and Fabiani.

AFI’s chairman, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe’s vision to highlight Africa’s design talent has put South African fashion on the map. With an attendance of more than 220 000 over the years, AFI has had some of the globe’s top international models and designers participate in this great showcase – achieving their vision to promote South African fashion globally.

On AFI’s future plans Dr Precious says, “We are very excited about championing [particularly] initiatives that support the plights of African women & children and will be creating sustainable projects that will contribute positively to the lives of our people.”

One such initiative is The Clothing Bank, which aims to empower unemployed mothers through enterprise development. The objective is to give them financial and social independence. "I decided to be a patron of The Clothing Bank, because in my practice as a Women’s Health doctor, I realized that health and economic opportunities were closely linked. The Clothing Bank gives women an opportunity to earn their own living, learn a skill and improve their personal and family’s livelihood. They can send their children to school, pay medical bills and think about their future.”Unwanted clothes collected at Fashion Week are “recycled”, and given new life through the work of the ladies from The Clothing Bank.

Commenting on what Cape Town fashion specifically, has to offer the world, Bryan Ramkilawan CEO: Cape Town Fashion Council says,” Cape Town designers have an intellectual approach to fashion and are progressive and innovative”, he continues, “we have tremendously creative people, they just need a platform.” On Cape Town Fashion Week he adds, “Ultimately I believe that [Cape Town] fashion week is a business platform not an entertainment one, it is a key financial driver of our city.”

Earlier this year, Thandiwe January-McLean, Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism said that it makes perfect sense for South African Tourism to support the various exciting fashion initiatives: “South Africans have recently shown that we are world leaders in engineering, construction, event organisation, technological advancement and innovation and now it’s the turn of our fashion industry to showcase its world-class qualities. We, at South African Tourism, are committed to supporting our fashion industry in its attempts to rival the likes of Paris, Milan and New York in the global fashion stakes. That is why in 2011 we will be supporting the Joburg, Cape Town and Africa Fashion Weeks“