Capetown-150204-Models dressed by Amagents durring the fitting ahead of the fashion show that will start tomorrow-Picture by BHEKI RADEBE

Liesl van der Schyff and Nicolette Dirk

THE South African Menswear Week started last night with a showcase of more than 25 local menswear collections.

The three-day fashion extravaganza at the V&A Waterfront is Africa’s first platform dedicated to the promotion of menswear.

The event’s creative director, Simon Deiner, explained that there had been a lot of anticipation ahead of Cape Town hosting this global event.

“We want this event to be a business platform for fashion, where local designers can promote their designs to be sold. We want to move away from fashion events being seen mainly as entertainment, but rather as an opportunity where designers can market their clothes to be sold,” he said.

To do this, he said, they removed the “fluff” sometimes associated with fashion shows and strategically targeted buy-ers and hardcore fashion followers.

Part of the International Menswear Federation, the showcase is modelled on the world’s leading events such as London Collections: Men, and Pitti Uomo in Italy.

SA Menswear Week retains the intimate style venues, only seating between 200 and 250 people alongside the catwalk.

Most of the guests will be made up of media and fashion buyers with dedicated, though limited, places for the general public.

It is meant to be a somewhat simple showing that allows full attention to be paid to the designs.

“A lot of focus is placed on using media because marketing is essential for more people to become aware of the amazing quality of local designs. Consumers who do buy the designs would then also advocate it to others. The fashion industry injects R250 million into the country’s economy through turnover,” Deiner said.

With more men becoming aware of their grooming and appearance, Deiner said men’s fashion was fast becoming a growing market.

The event will also provide a world-class platform for designers to showcase their creativity, by wanting to establish South African Menswear Week as a leader in terms of innovation and trends.

Partnering with London Collections: Men could eventually see South African designers show off their wears on the catwalks of London, driving exports and brand awareness on South African shores.

The 2015 line-up of designers will include, among others, Tanzanian fashion maestro Mustafa Hassanali, who is set to launch his first menswear resort collection. Hassanali’s collection focuses mostly on females, so the men’s fashion show will be a new venture for him. His fashion collections always involve the East African cotton fabric “Kitenge” which is his signature look.

Designer Craig Port and his firm Maze Clothing are preparing three fashion shows for the event that includes Craig Port brand, Lucky Luke; designed by Larry Hartmann and X&O, designed by Kim Govaars.

This is the first time their other brands are getting separate shows and Port attributed this to the space that a menswear-only fashion week afforded him.

Monde Mtsi, menswear blogger, said that after two years of development, discussions with designers and the industry, SA Menswear Week had positioned itself as the platform for menswear to take centre stage.