Fashion guru shows young designers ropes

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Ten budding Eastern Cape designers have been learning all there is to know about the fashion business from one of the country’s top designers, Thula Sindi.

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Ten young designers in a mentorship programme take a selfie with David Tlale Picture: MARK ANDREWS

The 10 – Ati Setipa, Khanya Matolengwe, Lelethu Tyethe, Ludidi Onke, Lungela Sijila, Masimzukise Jack, Melinda Nkayi, Nomfuneko Kenyane, Yanga Nginda and Zandile Goniwe – are all part of the Buyel’Ekhaya Fashion Development Programme, and are currently in Johannesburg doing a mentorship with Sindi.

The programme was founded last year as a six-month, six-phase skills development programme aimed at identifying, mentoring and training upcoming designers from the Eastern Cape in the art of fashion design, garment production, business and marketing.

The 10 will get a chance to showcase their work at the second annual Buyel’Ekhaya Fashion Show taking place on December 15.

Other designers who will be exhibiting their work include Sindi, Laduma Ngxokolo of MaXhosa, David Tlale, Gert-Johan Coetzee and Taibo Bacar.

Buyel’Ekhaya Pan African Festival founder Nomsa Mazwai said the vision has always been to turn the Eastern Cape into the cultural mecca of South Africa and have now added the fashion component to this big event.

“Fashion and style have become important purveyors of social and cultural meaning in modern societies, where clothing has become a global language that plays a major role in identity formation and personal self-expression.”

Mazwai noted, however, that though she came across many talented designers in the Eastern Cape , there was a gap in terms of making the leap from studying fashion to running a business.

“Most aspiring designers possess the talent and some acquire the certification, but what lacks in most programmes is the exposure to a quality and well-finished product, which is necessary to ensure that learners develop into commercially viable business owners.

“This is even more so in rural communities in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, where talented young fashion graduates have abandoned all hope of translating their passion into gainful employment and can be seen working as petrol attendants and cashiers,” she said.

Through the development programme, the 10 designers have had an opportunity to see how the industry is run and will have access to Sindi even after the fashion show. Speaking to the Dispatch Jack, who is from Dimbaza, said Sindi taught them a lot about the industry.

“We got to see how things are done in the industry and he told us about the importance of branding,” he said.

Jack said they were also taught about the importance of using genuine fabric for their garments.

“People have skin cancer and the fabric used to make their clothes is a major contributor. We were taught about the importance of using authentic fabric,” he said.

Another up-and-coming designer, Kenyane of Mdantsane, said she learned the importance of networking and growing one’s business.

“He told us as startup designers we don’t have to get a studio – we can work from home and look for shops that fit our designs,” she said.

The budding designers, who will be coming back to the province tomorrow, said they were working on their garments that will be on show in December. — poliswap@dispatch. co.za

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