David Tlale: HOW TO HUS­TLE YOUR WAY TO THE TOP

Ground­break­ing fash­ion de­signer and busi­ness­man David Tlale will once again be show­cas­ing his lat­est col­lec­tion at New York Fash­ion Week on 15 Fe­bru­ary. He takes us on his 12-year jour­ney in the fash­ion business.

Finweek English Edition - - FRONT PAGE - BY Buhle Nd­weni

It’s a South African fash­ion brand that ex­udes such lux­ury that it has po­si­tioned it­self on the in­ter­na­tional stage, shar­ing the ramp with the likes of global fash­ion icons Dior and Os­car de la Renta. It is the David Tlale brand. David Tlale is a pru­dent busi­ness­man. Twelve years ago he quit his job as a part-time fash­ion lec­turer at the Vaal Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and went into the lux­ury fash­ion business.

To­day, he is fast grow­ing a fol­low­ing in the in­ter­na­tional fash­ion space. On 15 Fe­bru­ary he is ex­hibit­ing his sixth solo show­cas­ing at the pres­ti­gious New York Fash­ion Week. This is an ex­er­cise that costs his company just over R1m per sea­son.

Tak­ing a fash­ion brand from SA to the cat­walks of New York is not easy, says Tlale.

“It’s the tough­est thing to do ev­ery sea­son. Ev­ery year we need just over R2m to showcase two sea­sons,” he says. “The fash­ion in­dus­try is a very ex­pen­sive in­dus­try. It’s not a trial-and-er­ror business, and once you put your­self on an in­ter­na­tional stage, peo­ple don’t care that you come from South Africa, they don’t care that you’re trad­ing in rands. They un­der­stand the power of be­ing an in­ter­na­tional brand be­cause the re­turn on in­vest­ment is greater.”

Granted, lux­ury brands come at a high cost to high-end cus­tomers. But it takes much more money to showcase on the in­ter­na­tional stage against iconic brands. So, where did Tlale get the fund­ing, es­pe­cially in the ini­tial stages? Gov­ern­ment agen­cies were able to lend a hand where they could, says Tlale. “One sea­son we were sup­ported by Brand South Africa. And the Na­tional Em­pow­er­ment Fund in the first sea­son. Ev­ery­thing else

“Once yo u put yo ur­self on an in­ter­na­tional stage, peo­ple don’t care that yo u come from South Africa, they don ’t care that yo u’re trad­ing in rands.”

Delta Peo­ple

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