Where fashion meets business

Following the successful launch of Africa Fashion Exchange (AFX) in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, (EDTEA) and the Economic Development and Investment Promotion Unit (ED&IPU) of the EThekwini Municipality in April, the KwaZulu-Natal Fashion Council (KZNFC) proudly presents its inaugural fashion extravaganza happening from 23 until 25 June at the Hay Store building, Point Waterfront in Durban.

The Africa Fashion Exchange is a market intelligence, thought-leadership, business exchange and market access platform programme driven by the KwaZulu-Natal Fashion Council. The purpose of this event is to drive fashion and design in the province, ensuring national and continental competitiveness and establishing a sustainable business for the clothing and textile sector.

The event is key to the survival of the fashion industry in the province, the country and the continent. It is envisaged that it will begin to address the most inherent challenges of the industry – the lack of the necessary sustained exposure and suitable platforms from which South African and African designers can market their products, exchange business ideas and set the agenda for the fashion sector in sub-Saharan Africa.

The participation by designers from various regions of the African continent is most fitting to the key messages of the recent Africa month; “to establish the necessary conditions for the continent to take its rightful place in the global economy and on the international stage” in line with the DAC’s MGE strategy imperatives. Thus, through its Sister City Programme, eThekwini Municipality continues to make its mark in the transformative agenda locally and continentally. The Mayor, Councillor James Nxumalo credited hard work contributed by the ED&IPU and a viable strategy. “While it is no surprise that we have such participation, it is with pride and joy that Africa Fashion Exchange has secured representation by designers through our Sister Cities programme”. African designers such as Anna Ngann Yonn (Cameroon), Christine Njoki (Kenya), Juliana Ella Nasasira (Uganda), Fatmah Naeem (Tanzania), Fikile Dube (Zimbabwe) and Chic Therapy (Nigeria) will surely make their mark on South African soil as they have already done in their respective countries in celebrating “Building a Better Africa and a Better World”.

KwaZulu-Natal offers a kaleidoscope of young fashion design talent. By harnessing and developing this talent, the KZNFC seeks to reposition the clothing and textile sector as a major contributor to the gross GDP of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa. Cementing the province’s position will invariably change the picture on the continental and global stages.

Chairperson of the Board, Ms Zola Shabangu was measured and focused;

“Africa Fashion Exchange is a major strategic output that will be a catalyst, a beacon and wake up call to galvanise those who are truly committed to genuine development of the Industry. It will go a significant way towards cementing our position as the fashion hub we envisage and plan to achieve. We know what talent resides here in KZN and our mandate is to nurture and see it thrive. It is imperative for our economy”.

Africa Fashion Exchange also seeks to celebrate emerging and established entrepreneurs who, from humble beginnings and against all odds, make a successful living out of fashion. The KZNFC has rolled out a 3-month Fashion Design Capacity Building Programme called “21 Steps to Retail”. AFX will showcase the work of some of the designers who have emerged from this programme, demonstrating their training in technical and business skills as well as their personal development.

Embedded in the event are the Knowledge Sharing Sessions. This is the unique feature of AFX as these will bring to our city various speakers and panelists who have diverse skills, expertise and experience in the industry and its value chain. It is this component that will raise the bar of the event. The sessions are open to the public and run from 23 – 25 June 2016 daily from 09h00 till 13h00. Entrance is free but booking is essential as seats are limited. An exhibition by designers will run concurrently and is open to public from 09h00 till 20h00.

An upbeat Managing Director, Ms Palesa Kwitshana could not hide her excitement. “I am thrilled that we have put together an exciting event that is not only the first of its kind but one that is quite ambitious in terms of its positioning. We look forward to a very interactive and productive experience that will set a new agenda for the industry”.

Article by: Leadership Online