WHAT’S NOT To cel­e­brate?

The growth of the econ­omy is only in­evitable when nur­tur­ing tal­ent is at the epi­cen­tre of a busi­ness. En­ter the Dur­ban Fash­ion Fair, an an­nual four-day event that show­cases the best new and es­tab­lished cre­atives Dur­ban has to o er.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Front Page -

Head­ing up the fair is Sindi Shangase, busi­ness sup­port, tourism and mar­kets unit pro­gramme man­ager for ethek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity. A lover of fash­ion, ev­i­dent from her tor­toise-shell cat-eye spec­ta­cles and su­per cool fade, it’s clear that what­ever for­mula she and her team have pro­duced is work­ing. Ini­tially as­sist­ing crafters, they then ex­panded into pro­grammes for the per­form­ing arts sec­tor, lead­ing them to work with fash­ion en­trepreneurs. “There’s a tech­ni­cal ele­ment that we need to in­volve our­selves in, so that de­sign­ers are able to up­hold the stan­dards re­quired by the market,” says Sindi, who fo­cuses on en­sur­ing de­sign­ers are ready for market.

“If I have to com­pare my­self from be­fore the DFF to where I am now, it’s a lot di­er­ent. I am where I am be­cause of the knowl­edge I’ve gained from the plat­form,” says multi-dff Award win­ner Martin John Steenkamp, whose jour­ney has been no overnight suc­cess.

From work­ing in a lo­cal su­per­mar­ket for seven years to be­ing ac­cepted into the MRP Foun­da­tion, a non-profit which as­sists young de­sign­ers, his de­ter­mi­na­tion and en­durance is sec­ond to none. In just three years of show­ing at the DFF, he has been able to re­fine his mes­sage. “I see my­self as a de­signer who em­bod­ies fu­tur­is­tic ideals,” Martin ex­plains. As his clien­tele grows, he hopes to con­tinue to build his brand, at­tract­ing cus­tomers from across the coun­try, while con­tin­u­ing to per­fect his sig­na­ture.

“It’s like a drug: once you start, you can’t stop; it keeps you on a high,” says Amanda Laird Cherry about her love of fash­ion. A vet­eran in the in­dus­try, Amanda founded her brand 22 years ago, with a team of two in an apart­ment on the Berea. Slow and con­cen­trated steps are how she came to cre­ate such a for­mi­da­ble brand. “In­tern­ing is so im­por­tant, and go­ing into fac­tory en­vi­ron­ments and learn­ing about the bot­tle­necks that hap­pen along the pro­duc­tion lines is a huge step in the right di­rec­tion.”

The com­mit­ment of the KZN gov­ern­ment in growing the fash­ion in­dus­try must be com­mended; its vi­sion is strongly aligned with aid­ing eco­nomic growth and strength­en­ing young artists. Al­though there may be na­tion­wide ar­eas of im­prove­ment with re­gards to sup­ply­ing bet­ter ma­chin­ery, bet­ter train­ing fa­cil­i­ties for fac­tory em­ploy­ees and the ex­pan­sion in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of lo­cal tex­tiles, there must be a point of de­par­ture, and it looks like KZN is well on its way to a new hori­zon.

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