TIKZN Threading Ways for Fresh Local Clothing Designers
Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) recently played major sponsor to the KZN fashion designers that participated in the Joburg Fashion Week 2012. In a collaborative effort between with the KZN Fashion Council, TIKZN, the official investment promotion agency for the province saw the need to draw attention to the local clothing sector as a means for economic development. Recruitment and selection of designers to showcase at the Joburg Fashion Week was undertaken by a special task team comprising of TIKZN and three Board Members within KZN Fashion Council, in line with TIKZN's qualifying criteria of being of suitable BEE status; at least two (2) years in trade and with at least 6 months of demonstrated production with the potential or accessible production capacity to produce for the export markets. The following designers were regarded as offering the critical elements for successful participation in Johannesburg Fashion Week 2012:
The TIKZN facilitation for participation in the event offered the KZN designers trade-business linkages; contact with prospective distributors and buyers; the promotion of KZN; the ability to establish the market demand and trends; and the opportunity to identify retailers and boutiques who currently stock KZN apparel to discuss further opportunities. The fashion showcase featured the nation's best designers unveiling their creative forecast of the season's trends, to a global audience of media, fashion buyers, and fashion consumers. This visual feast granted attendees a sneak preview into the upcoming season.
The designers also received free inclusion onto the exclusive 'Buyers Salon'. The salon is based on a concept that allows exclusive buyers to pre-order the latest runway collections; the idea is to assist designers build successful brands and grow their bottom line by connecting with customers.
Post event, TIKZN and the KZN Fashion Council hosted an industry networking and information sharing platform. This was an opportunity for the four designers to share their experiences and lessons learnt and also encourage the emerging and established KZN designers to keep pushing fashion boundaries.
Donny Pethan, GM: Business Retention and Expansion, Trade and Investment KZN said, "The seminar also highlighted the economic outlook for the fashion and textile industry". He went on, "We need to encourage our talented emerging and established designers to continue to be creative and innovative with amazing designs as this is necessary to enhance business development opportunities, which could lead to re-investments and expansions thereby creating job opportunities for our communities"Awareness was also made of the incentive and access to financial support which is available from government and development finance institutions in order to stimulate growth and development of the Clothing and Textiles Sector.
The textiles and clothing sector has significant diversity and considerable potential within KZN. This is a significant employer within KwaZulu-Natal's manufacturing sector. This fact, coupled with the relatively low barriers to entry makes it a very strategic industry for development purposes. It was reiterated by guest speaker, Atul Padalkar, Researcher and Entrepreneurial Developer, Dr Padalkar's Research Resources that, "By connecting the dots with industry, designers, retailers and business incubators, we can explore how we can work together and create value for the SA and KZN economy". In 2009 the KwaZulu-Natal government developed a comprehensive strategy for the revitalization of the province's clothing and textile sector, supporting this strategy by setting aside R70 million in a bid to rescue its clothing and textile industry. "This strategy looks at access to markets, skills development, and establishment of an integrated hub that will service stakeholders," said Zamo Gwala, Chief Executive Officer, Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal. He went on to say, "In alignment with its mandate to support and facilitate export development and export trade, supporting the revival of the clothing sector in KZN is essential to TIKZN".