Fash­ion la­bel equips women with skills

Pro­gramme aims to help ben­e­fi­cia­ries with a steady in­come

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KARISHMA DIPA

FROM every­day ca­sual to for­mal wear, sport gear, cock­tail at­tire and even py­ja­mas… peo­ple wear clothes ev­ery day.

Clothes al­low peo­ple to dif­fer­en­ti­ate var­i­ous events in their lives, in­stil a sense of con­fi­dence, are a form of self-ex­pres­sion and, at the very least, cover our bod­ies.

The fash­ion in­dus­try, re­spon­si­ble for the man­u­fac­tur­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion of cloth­ing, is con­se­quently a gold mine which em­ploys mil­lions of peo­ple around the world.

It was for these rea­sons and count­less more that a lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion has de­cided to ven­ture into the in­dus­try.

But this time it’s do­ing so to em­power un­em­ployed women by teach­ing them ben­e­fi­cial skills to gen­er­ate their own in­come in or­der to sup­port their fam­i­lies and also to give them a plat­form to shine.

The MADWOMEN pro­gramme is an ini­tia­tive that was started by the AMEN Fash­ion la­bel, es­tab­lished in 2012 by Abiah Mahlase and Bradley Mut­titt.

To­gether with the City of Joburg, the ini­tia­tive se­lected 28 un­em­ployed women from Hill­brow and Cosmo City and taught them es­sen­tial skills.

The four-day course, which was held last month, cov­ered var­i­ous el­e­ments in­clud­ing vis­ual and tex­tile stud­ies, pat­tern mak­ing, gar­ment con­struc­tion and fash­ion re­tail.

Dur­ing the work­shop, the women gained prac­ti­cal skills by mak­ing items such as hand­bags, skirts, dresses, tops and trousers.

Dur­ing a re­cent photo shoot at the Ber­trams In­ner City Farm in Joburg, the women posed in their ap­peal­ing de­signs.

As pic­tured, this in­cluded a splash of colour on maxi dresses, high-waisted skirts and graphic blouses paired with doeks, which added an in­ter­est­ing el­e­ment to their looks.

They also learnt fash­ion the­ory by at­tend­ing lec­tures and stud­ied man­u­als while also hav­ing ac­cess to fash­ion-re­lated learn­ing re­sources such as text­books, jour­nals and mag­a­zines.

In ad­di­tion, the group were taught en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills and what fash­ion re­tail en­tails so they could ven­ture into the in­dus­try by them­selves.

Af­ter work­ing hard to per­fect their crafts, the group will now take part in Malawi Fash­ion Week at the end of the month.

“The MADWOMEN brand would like to use Malawi Fash­ion Week as a plat­form to show­case the work­man­ship of these women, as well as to fur­ther equip them with the skills re­quired in or­der to pro­duce fash­ion prod­ucts that can be sold at a va­ri­ety of re­tail out­lets,” said Mut­titt.

He ex­plained that the pro­gramme seeks to achieve a num­ber of ob­jec­tives. Among these were creat­ing lo­cal gar­ments, which in turn would cre­ate em­ploy­ment.

Mut­titt said there was a gap in the mar­ket for women to par­tic­i­pate in such ini­tia­tives.

“The pur­pose of the ini­tia­tive was for women em­pow­er­ment and the lack of pro­grammes avail­able for women to use their cre­ative tal­ents as a form of sus­tain­abil­ity.”

He added that Africa had a di­verse range of cul­tures and per­son­al­i­ties which could trans­late into strik­ing and un­usual de­signs.

De­spite this, he be­lieves that Africa is not widely re­garded as a fash­ion des­ti­na­tion com­pared to New York, Lon­don, Paris and Milan.

“MADWOMEN seeks to in­spire a gen­er­a­tion of African women to be world­wide women and to pro­duce lo­cally hand­made prod­ucts for ex­port to Africa and the fash­ion cap­i­tals of the world,” said Mut­titt.

In an ef­fort to raise funds for the women to travel to and par­tic­i­pate in Malawi Fash­ion Week, the MADWOMEN team are cur­rently fundrais­ing for the women by sell­ing bags, scarves and gar­ments which the group made them­selves.

Those who would like to as­sist can con­tact 082 332 8412 or mad­wom­en­made­by­women@gmail.com for spon­sor­ships, fab­rics or time.

Nthabiseng Pit­jeng

Re­filowe Mbatha

Mshay­isa Busi

Mavis Dube

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