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SAFW is once again looking to grow the fashion and creative industry by opening it to emerging designers.
SAFW is once again looking to grow the fashion and creative industry by opening it to emerging designers.

SAFW competitions offers entry into fashion industry


By Karishma Dipa - Jul 19th, 08:41

It opened the door for David Tlale to showcase his designs at New York Fashion Work, Mmuso Maxwell to supply his garments to retail giant Woolworths and Clinton Lotter to take his work to the UK. Now, South African Fashion Week (SAFW) is once again looking to grow the fashion and creative industry by opening it to emerging designers. 

Through its student and new talent competitions, which are open for entry, the country’s only business-to-business fashion platform is inviting fashion students and newcomers to take up the latest challenges for an opportunity to catapult their career.

Founder and director Lucilla Booyzen estimates that 75% of all finalists thrive in the industry.

“Entering gives the winner, as well as the finalists, an ‘in’ to sought-after media, buyers and new clients. Since its inception, the success stories include Black Coffee, Terrence Bray, Guillotine, Roman Handt, David Tlale, and more recently, Take Care, Anmari Honiball and Mmuso Maxwell and Cindy Mfabe.”

Jacques Bam's career also flourished after he won last year’s SAFW student competition. He took his designs across the country through his collaboration with Mr. Price on an exclusive limited-edition range, MRP x BAM. It is available in stores and online.

“Winning has also been a major highlight for me," he said. "I will always remain thankful for the incredible amount of knowledge it has bestowed upon me.”

Winning also allowed Bam to work with mentors.

“The SAFW student competition has given me the opportunity to be mentored by ERRE and Isabel de Villiers, two incredible fashion brands who have aided me exponentially in developing my business model.”

Bam said that in August last year, he came across the competition and was intrigued by the design challenge.

“The theme for our looks that year was sustainability, which has become an important consideration in clothing production and design. I wanted to take the opportunity to experiment with alternative forms of sustainable design, which has since become a major part of my brand.”

Bam’s business has since flourished.

“The competition propelled my brand forward at an incredible rate. It taught me a lot about design, and gave me the skills to run a viable, sustainable business within the South African market which is a skill which usually takes a few years to master.”

Booysen said that, like Bam, emerging designers could take their design businesses to the next level and be able to enter the competitive market just by entering.

“Competitions offer a lot more reward than just the winning prize,” she said. “They play a key role in motivating students to perform and excel, and encourage students to adopt innovative techniques and develop their ideas and skills.”

This year, the SAFW student competition, which is open to final-year students, wants entrants to follow worldwide trends of fashion sustainability and luxury sportswear by designing a "never-seen-before" tracksuit.

“Social conventions regarding clothing are decreasing,” says Booysen. “People want to be flexible and free themselves from feeling constrained by their wardrobe.”

The garment is required to be environmentally friendly, fashion-forward, desirable and one that transcends time.

Their 2019 New Talent Search follows a similar brief of sustainability, requiring participants to design a garment along the theme of "Shaping the future of Sustainable Fashion”.

The student competition prizes include R5000 and the opportunity to showcase their designs in the SAFW Autumn/Winter 2020 shows.

The 2019 New Talent Search will receive, among other things, R30 000 towards developing their Spring/Summer 2021 collection in collaboration with The Fashion Agent.IOL 

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