The Mercury

To New York, with love…

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The designer whose order includes knit, draped tunics and classic cocktail dresses in tonal colours says there is a lot of paperwork but the potential is massive. She says she could not have done it without an agent. That agent is Diane Kalil. She exhibited their work at clothing trade shows in the US, such as the Magic Show Trade Fair in Las Vegas, and it was this exposure that led to the lucrative Nordstrom order.

“It is important to acknowledg­e that we have worldclass talent in South Africa,” says Kalil.

“I strongly believe we need to give our South African fashion designers the right exposure and back-up, allowing them to be on the same playing field as designers in the US.

“We have major logistic and seasonal barriers in South Africa; however, by working with each designer to provide a US platform for them, I hope to be able to give them this opportunit­y.”

Kalil says paramount to being successful in export is to be “userfriend­ly”.

“By offering our South African designers’ collection­s, not only for sales and range viewing but also distributi­on, directly out of California into the US market, we make each designer a lot more ‘userfriend­ly’ to the local US market.

“By handling the export, clearing and shipping ourselves we take the concern of the ‘unknown’ factor out of the equation for US buyers.

“Having an office for our South African designers based in the US, which deals with customer follow-ups and enquiries, is another way we shake off the perception of buying fashion from a high-risk supply location.”

Essentiall­y what she is doing is offering fashion from top South African designers on the same terms as US designers. While this is no doubt a foot in the door for our local designers, it is also an opportunit­y to make of it what they will – to grow and gain internatio­nal exposure.

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