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Businesswoman Nkano Senyolo is determined to help SA fashion designers succeed internationally

House of Fabrosanz designer Sandisiwe Mazibuko. Picture: Rene Ewals

House of Fabrosanz designer Sandisiwe Mazibuko. Picture: Rene Ewals

Published Jul 24, 2022

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South African fashion designers have proven time and time again that they belong at international fashion weeks along with international designers such as Alessandro Michele and Virginie Viard.

At the beginning of this year, East London-born Lukhanyo Mdingi showcased his African-inspired collection, Bodyland, at the Autumn/Winter 2022 collection at Paris Fashion Week.

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While LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers Thebe Magugu unveiled a collection titled Banyoloyi A Bosigo at the Autumn/Winter 2021 at Paris Fashion Week in 2021.

Therefore it’s undeniable that there’s an abundance of creative talent in our country but the challenge however is to get the world to see more of it.

Businesswoman and the founder of IFW Business, Nkano Senyolo, is determined to change that.

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Nkano Senyolo. Picture: Supplied

IFW Business is a company which assists upcoming and registered South African Fashion Designers in educating them on how to build their businesses through multiple resources such as educational workshops, masterclasses, trade fairs, exhibitions, retail and showcase.

Senyolo, a fashion design graduate from the faculty of Art Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg and who has over 11 years of experience in the fashion industry, noticed that there was an imbalance in the industry such as; African fashion trends were behind, there are a lot of creative designers but not enough exposure, and a lot of amazingly talented individuals but most of them lacked business acumen, and the fashion industry in South Africa was extremely underrated - just to mention a few challenges.

Being solution-driven, passionate and altruistic she founded IFW Business and IFW Projects (NGO) in 2019.

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Her company objectives include connecting designers with garment construction manufacturers, assisting designers in building a sustainable online business that will attract more traffic for consumers and buyers, securing and organising overseas fashion show attendance and exhibitions as well as building outstanding fashion portfolios for the designer to have a higher preference in retail selection.

The company is currently managing a group of 10 South African fashion designers, and their collections and working on expanding its portfolio successively to eventually become the go-to brand for creative individuals or fashion designers that seek to grow their business brand, access resources and have more business opportunities (nationally and internationally).

After a successful debut in Amsterdam, Netherlands in March this year where they showcased two talented South African fashion designers, Sandi Mazibuko and House of Fabrosanz, they were offered the opportunity to part take in other international fashion shows.

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In August the company will be taking two local designers to Turkey to showcase their work at the Cappadocia Fashion Week.

Cappadocia Fashion Week is an annual event organised by Africa Fashion Week Europe (AFWEU) to give designers a platform to showcase their garments and to promote various designers between Africa and Europe.

The two South African brands that will be showcasing at the Cappadocia Fashion Week are Nguni Brand and once again House of Fabrosanz.

Nguni Brand is a Durban label co-founded by Rapule Mathonsi (Creative Director), Nandi Mtsokoba (Production Director) and Wendy Magafela (Sales Director). Nguni Brand is inspired by the beautiful and colourful Nguni culture. They draw most of their inspiration from Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, and Ndebele and incorporate a bit from the Sotho culture and create unique patterns. The goal is to not only to make this a Durban, South African brand, but to expand globally.

Nguni Brand. Picture: Supplied

“We want people all over the world to be exposed to the beauty of our cultures. We are a young, traditional and vibrant brand,” says Mathonsi.

Fabrosanz (FRS) was founded in 2011 by designer Sandisiwe Mazibuko. Fabrosanz stands for Fabulous Royalty Sanz with Sanz being a shortened version for Sandisiwe’s name. The brand name describes how Sandi would like to feel when wearing her garments; fabulous and royal. FRS manufactures clothes for both women and men with its own cultural inspired prints, the Nguni print being the most successful one as it is bought globally. It is important for Fabrosanz to translate the Zulu culture into wearable garments as it represents where she comes from. In celebration to the brand being in the industry for 10 years, the brand took inspiration from the previous collections and developed the Venda, Tsonga and Sepedi-inspired prints - launched in 2021.

Fabrosanz. Picture: Rene Ewals

“Our collection offerings are inspired by fabrics, colours, and motifs depicted on the traditional attires of these cultures. The prints are developed by using different shapes in bright colours which all have cultural meaning,” explains Mazibuko.

Nkano Senyolo with designer Sandisiwe Mazibuko. Picture: Supplied

IFW Business plans on getting other local designers to fashion shows such as Nairobi Fashion Week which happens in November 2022 as well as Istanbul Fashion Week in December 2022.

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