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Moloi-Motsepe: Why SA fashion must be nurtured

Aug 04 2017 07:00
Carin Smith

Cape Town - Compared to the global fashion industry, the South African fashion industry is not yet as huge as one would like to see it in terms of size, according to Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, founder and CEO of African Fashion International (AFI).

"If the global fashion industry was a country, it would probably be the 7th largest economy in the world," she told Fin24.

AFI owns and operates two Fashion Week platforms, namely Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg (MBFWJ) and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT). The aim of the events is to celebrate South African talent and propel African fashion onto the world stage.

South Africa’s top designers are currently getting ready to showcase their Spring/Summer collections at the Joburg Fashion Week, which is set to take place at the Mall of Africa's outdoor amphitheatre from August 17 to 19.

Moloi-Motsepe stressed that the fashion industry - both globally and locally - creates a lot of economic value. Not only does it provide jobs in the clothing industry, but also in related industries along the value chain.

The biggest challenge for the SA fashion industry at the moment, in her view, is the economic situation, which is curbing consumer spending. Due to the recessionary climate there is not much economic growth. Even globally growth in the fashion industry has slowed to about 2.5% per year, impacted by, among other factors, global political uncertainty.

Yet, she is confident of the value of both the Joburg and Cape Town Fashion Week, as it serves not only as a very important marketing platform, but also to build SA fashion's brand position and brand equity. It also brings consumers and designers in contact with each other.

Leigh Schubert:


Moloi-Motsepe remembers how, when she started AFI ten years ago, many SA retailers offered resistance to using local designs. They had issues regarding quality and the understanding of timelines.

Fabrics and funding for smaller enterprises were some of the biggest challenges for local designers when Fashion Week started.

"Slowly, over the last 10 years, our local designers have become popular with more people buying from them. Retailers are also coming to the party. So, there is a change, although we are not yet where we want to be in terms of the number of local designers," said Moloi-Motsepe.

At the same time, she has noticed that a lot of international designers have been inspired by African heritage and incorporated this into their designs.

"They are looking for something different and SA designers can add value. We are not yet where we want to be regarding demand from big retailers overseas, but we are getting there," she added.

"I am still passionate about and inspired by what I am doing and have a very positive outlook for the future. I have seen our designers grow from small enterprises, producing designs in their apartments to now having their own stalls."


Mall of Africa

Moloi-Motsepe is thrilled to have Mall of Africa as the new venue host for the 10th anniversary of the Joburg Fashion Week.

“We have collaborated with South African and African fashion design royalty to offer a world-class spectacular of refined African apparel and accessories at our exciting new venue, the Mall of Africa,” said Moloi-Motsepe.

“We are also delighted to welcome collections from young designers who are making waves in the fashion world."

Designers showcasing their collections are David Tlale; Fabiani; Gavin Rajah; Haute Baso; Khosi Nkosi; KL Tsotetsi; KLUK CGDT; Leigh Schubert; Marianne Fassler; Orapeleng Modulte Style Avenue; Quiteria & George; Ruff Tung; Sheria Ngowi; Spero; Stefania Morland; Thula Sindi and TN Collective.

Designers making their debut at MBFWJ 2017 include Sheria Ngowi from Tanzania, Chidinma Obairi from Nigeria and Vizuvlgvds from the US.

Orapeleng Modulte:

The Intern by David Tlale will introduce a selection of young designers yet to produce their own collections, but who display the potential to take their own place on a Fashion Week programme with the help and guidance of a mentor.
“This event attracts the attention of a local and international audience, from young and aspiring creatives to affluent consumers who spend their disposable income in the luxury and fashion space.

"We look forward to welcoming visitors from across the country and the continent to revel in this curated showcase of Africa’s best established and emerging designers on this world-class platform,” said Moloi-Motsepe.

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