by Mbali Zulu

Young designers learn the ropes

Moulding the next generation of designers

Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe; Executive Chairperson of AFI
Dr Precious.jpg

 

African Fashion International (AFI), owners and managers of the three Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks in South Africa, continues its support to developing young design talent.

“Sustainability of the clothing and manufacturing sector in South Africa will need an infusion of local fashion talent that brings diversity and authenticity to the global fashion landscape,” says AFI Executive Chairperson, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe.

“Africa cannot compete with companies in the East, as they are able to produce large volumes at low cost. Where we can compete is in high value-added products. We are blessed with a talent pool that can add value in design aesthetic and unique hand finishing. The development of young fashion designers is vital to creating a sustainable and commercially viable industry,” she adds.

Through its development programmes, AFI Fastrack™ and AFINext Generation, AFI is hard at work mentoring and growing the designers in these programs and is proud of the progress and achievements of these young designers. In the 2013 AFI Fastrack™ programme, winners are midway through their mentorships organised by AFI.

Hugo Flear, known for his unique and strong use of digital prints that he designed himself, has been placed with Gabi Rosenwerth of Rosenwerth designs. Eleni Labrou, who created a collection using digital prints which she hand-painted, is learning the ropes of retail with local luxury retailer Felicity Spies, owner of EGALITY. Long-term mentoring and development enthusiast, Jenny le Roux (designer for Habits) is currently working with Alexa Liss, whose “Faces of Water” collection impressed the local fashion community.

As the final part of their prize, the three emerging designers will begin working on a final capsule collection to be shown at MBFW Africa in October/November.

Bella Cebekhulu, AFI New Business Development Manager and head of the development programmes says: “This year we saw a heightened level of talent and innovation. The capsule ranges will be testimony to the designers’ development throughout the year – each designer needs to maintain a strong level of creativity, while ensuring commercial relevance and quality.”

Kyle Boshoff, AFI Communications Officer explains that the three winning designers are testimony to the innovation in design coming out strongly in the work of younger designers. “All three designers have pushed the limits of their creativity, playing with silhouette and textiles. They really represent AFI’s theme for 2013 – ‘Fashion, Art and Design’.” The work of the three designers will be featured in the campaign for MBFWCT 2013.

Winner of the AFI Fastrack™ programme in 2012, menswear designer Kim Gush, will be showcasing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town 2013, under the AFI Next Generation programme. Kim spent part of last year interning and honing her understanding of manufacturing at Kazak and also participated in a one-on-one mentoring session with international retail expert, Mercedes Gonzalez.

AFI is also proud of Tzvi Karp (AFI Fastrack™ 2012 finalist and AFI Next Generation 2013 designer) on his inclusion in the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans 2013, alongside Thula Sindi, one of well-known design talent in SA. Tzvi received a special mention for “innovative design” from the panel of judges in the AFI Fastrack™ programme last year and later showcased a capsule collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg 2013. His capsule collection, which was funded by AFI in partnership with the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, was well received by media – a result of an AFI-organised mentorship at Avant Apparel.

Cebekhulu adds: “Tzvi is a young designer with amazing promise. He has a unique point of view and an unflinching commitment to his brand of design. We look forward to continuing our role in his development as one of South Africa’s 

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