As the Durban Fashion Fair got under way yesterday, key industry players welcomed the event and said they hoped it would stimulate the hard-pressed textile industry in the city.
Nicci Lyne, managing director of the Durban-headquartered Mr Price Group, speaking on the sidelines of the opening, said: “We’re at a crossroads now.”
She said that with most of the company’s competitors based in Johannesburg and Cape Town, the industry in Durban had been struggling.
Lyne said the fair was about putting a platform in place and added that there was a need for retailers to reinvest in factories so that they could achieve quality production.
She said Mr Price had also made efforts to source production locally, to speed up delivery times in the fast-changing fashion industry.
The fair put the local industry on the map, said Lyne.
President Jacob Zuma, speaking in Durban yesterday at the national congress of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu), said textile companies had been taking advantage of the government’s incentives programme, which was intended to save jobs.
Chris Gina, the national organising secretary of the union, said the fair was an important event, but he was disappointed the Sactwu had not been invited.
“We are very encouraged by (the fair), it is unfortunate that we were sidelined when it came to Durban,” he said.
He said the union had reached a deadlock in wage talks and had obtained an 86 percent mandate to strike. It had invited the employer organisations to talks on Monday. But unless an agreement was reached about 50 000 workers were expected to down tools.
The fair exposed people in the industry to international trends and industry standards and as custodians of the industry the union needed to be involved, he said.
The municipality’s business support tourism and markets unit was a major funder of the event.
Sindi Shangase, the unit’s business support programme manager, said the fair , which was in its second year, was already receiving strong support.
Shangase said the unit had taken fashion design interns, who will be showcasing at the event, to Milan to gain skills.
They had also received business management guidance, said Shangase. – Cadet News Agency