Green is new black in fash­ion

African first for or­ganic gar­ments

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - NORMAN CLOETE

THE WEST­ERN Cape’s cloth­ing and tex­tile sec­tor is alive and well – and green.

The TCI Ap­parel De­sign Cen­tre, which part­ners with Wool­worths, the South African Cloth­ing and Tex­tile Work­ers Union ( Sactwu), the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try ( DTI) and the In­de­pen­dent De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (IDC), opened its new green fac­tory in Ep­ping, Bon­te­heuwel, yes­ter­day with much fan­fare.

The open­ing was marked with a tree-plant­ing cer­e­mony by TCI chief ex­ec­u­tive Her­man Pillay and a group of chil­dren whose par­ents work at the fac­tory.

“In­ter­na­tional trends are be­ing set, de­signed and man­u­fac­tured right here in Ep­ping,” said Pillay.

The fa­cil­ity not only boasts state- of- the- art equip­ment, colour­ful walls and a land­scaped gar­den, but also has its own veg­etable gar­den. Pro­duce from the gar­den is used to pre­pare food for staff. Pillay says it’s all part of their drive to pro­mote sus­tain­able fash­ion and job cre­ation.

TCI em­ploys 3 500 peo­ple and sup­plies Wool­worths with 4.5 mil­lion gar­ments per year. Other part­ners and clients in­clude the Ed­con Group, Tru­worths and Fos­chini. All gar­ments pro­duced by TCI are or­ganic.

The fac­tory is not only the first of its kind in South Africa, but also in Africa, and this makes the West­ern Cape a leader in sus­tain­able fash­ion on the con­ti­nent. Ac­cord­ing to Pillay, TCI saved more than 2 200 jobs in the sec­tor and added a fur­ther 1 350 new jobs in a sec­tor that was largely viewed as a “sun­set in­dus­try”.

The cloth­ing and tex­tile in­dus­try suf­fered ma­jor job losses a few years ago but seems to be on an even keel now.

The new TCI green de­sign fac­tory uses so­lar en­ergy to power hun­dreds of sewing ma­chines and even har­nesses at­mo­spheric wa­ter through an at­mo­spheric wa­ter gen­er­a­tor. The de­vice ex­tracts wa­ter from hu­mid am­bi­ent air, which is then con­densed by cool­ing the air be­low its dew point, ex­pos­ing the air to des­ic­cants, or pres­suris­ing the air. The tech­nol­ogy lim­its the fac­tory’s re­liance on mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter and is in line with the city’s wa­ter-sav­ing strat­egy.

“This is a per­fect il­lus­tra­tion of how cli­mate change can be merged with busi­ness,” said Pillay, who added that the econ­omy was at an all- time low and busi­nesses needed to “adapt or die, break through or be bro­ken through”.

Pillay added that fash­ion trends change con­stantly and the in­dus­try can­not stay abreast and com­pete with in­ter­na­tional brands at the same time.

“The idea is that we set the trends here and use our crys­tal ball to pre­dict fash­ion trends that can com­pete on the global cat­walk,” said Pillay.

TCI en­joys strong sup­port from Sactwu and the union has part­nered with the com­pany to cre­ate the de­sign cen­tre.

Wool­worths chief ex­ec­u­tive Zyda Ry­lands said fa­cil­i­ties such as these are in line with their vi­sion of an im­port re­place­ment strat­egy.

Pillay said work­ers are also treated to Pi­lates, aer­o­bics and yoga ex­er­cises three times per week.

As for the fash­ions, this re­porter had a sneak pre­view of the Spring/ Sum­mer col­lec­tion for 2017/2018 and the word on the ramp is… puff is in ladies… so puff away.

PIC­TURES: PHANDO JIKELO

The Eoan group re­hearses at Artscape for the show, Cape Town’s Most Wanted, which will take place this week­end.

PIC­TURE: TRACEY ADAMS

And She was a Ma­te­rial Girl is one of the dis­plays at the TCI Ap­parel De­sign Cen­tre launch.

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