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Fashion stakes and elections 2014

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Gwede Mantashe and Senzo Mchunu dance with models who are wearing items from the My ANC, My Swag collection.

Johannesburg - With the elections just three weeks away, political parties are in top gear with their campaigns.

The parties are using every means possible to boost their visibility, from television adverts to social media and now even fashion. Political fashion apparel includes Julius Malema’s red beret, Jacob Zuma’s leather jacket and Helen Zille’s headscarf and sneakers.

It is no longer enough to have party members parading in a branded T-shirt. Now parties have gone a step further, from launching their own fashion labels to getting items specially designed for their leaders.

The DA tops this list, using fashion in their campaign.

The party has produced its own earrings, handbags, conference bags, bandanas, beanies and even tracksuits.

Gary van Wyk, national director of campaigns and procurement for the DA, said the use of merchandising during the campaign helped get the DA’s brand out.

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The sneakers that were designed for Helen Zille while campaigning have attracted South Africans wanting a pair. PhotoL INLSA

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“It creates a sense of ‘ownership’ to all who wear the different merchandise and gives people a sense of belonging. The DA brand is worn with pride throughout the country and enables the DA to be easily identified by communities.

“We specifically had the sneakers made for Helen because she wanted something comfortable and unique, but also something that was a DA brand,” he said.

Zille has made waves with her take on campaigning and is seldom seen without her DA sneakers, a headscarf and her (DA branded) lip balm. She often tweets pictures of her outfits.

The DA is not restricting its brand to fashion; it has produced DA-branded stationery which includes erasers and notepads, as well as water bottles and lip balm. The party sports blue berets.

The ANC says it plans to pull in the youth vote with their clothing line called “My ANC, My Swag”.

The line was launched by party leaders in January and is the brainchild of 28-year-old Nqobile Cele.

Cele, a fashion researcher and adviser, said she saw a gap in campaign clothing that was not available to the youth.

“We have first-time voters who are excited to be voting this year; however, because they are young they do not relate to the old style of a T-shirt, they want something funky and trendy,” she said.

She said the clothing line had been a success across the country and had crossed the colour barrier.

“Young people from all races are wearing our dresses, skirts and T-shirts that have unique slogans on them.”

She said if political parties wanted to attract the youth vote their leaders needed to look the part.

“Young people want to be able to relate to leaders, and if leaders want to have the youth listening to them then they must look the part; it’s okay to be funky.”

Zuma never campaigns without his ANC leather jacket and yellow ANC golf shirt. And his style of leather jacket is worn by many other South Africans. The party also has its own black berets.

Nothing says EFF like a red beret worn by its leader Malema and dubbed the “revolutionary red beret” by the party.

EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the red beret was a product of their party and symbolised what it stood for.

A beret was also famously worn by Che Guevara, the poster boy of Latin American revolution.

Sunday Independent


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