Durban recently hosted some of Africa’s great minds in fashion, technology, literature and the arts. They gathered at Greyville Convention Centre last weekend for the annual Africa Fashion Exchange (AFX19) experience.
The event is a flagship event by the non-profit organisation KZN Fashion Council, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary Themed “Africa Connect”, it offered a networking opportunity for designers to introduce their brands, a learning platform for students and a business platform for buyers.
We spent each day listening to great panel discussions by industry experts and thought leaders. Day one panel discussions included CEO of Imprint and country coordinator for Fashion Revolution South Africa Cyril Naiker, Nuclear Scientist Nomso Faith Kana from the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and founder of sustainable living NPO Twyg Jackie May, speaking under the theme “Sustainability, Technology and Innovation”.
Takeaways from the conversation included building a sustainable fashion brand, being a conscious consumer by supporting the local clothing and manufacturing industry and other careers in fashion one can pursue such as in film and technology.
Under the theme for day two “Afro-Euro and Afro-Asia” , Asian designers Nonita Respati , Palesa Mokubung, the first African designer to collaborate with H&M and founder of Sungoddes Vanya Mangaliso spoke on the influence of fashion in our culture and everyday lives.
The final panel discussion with the theme “When art, heritage, music, literature, design, film and fashion meets” brought together author of the “Hlomu Series” Dudu Busani-Dube, artistic director of the state art theatre Aubrey Sekhabi , award-winning visual artist Selloane Moeti, founder of House of Fabrosanz Sandi Mazibuko and artist and entrepreneur Okmalumkoolkat.
Mazibuko, who designs her textiles inspired by the Nguni tribes, spoke about the importance of protecting your art against copyright violation. While Okmalumkoolkat showcased his futuristic label named “Spova”.
This is a unique experience in the local fashion scene that highlights different aspects in the fashion industry. The speakers from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Asia shared valuable insights in their chosen fields with the audience getting the opportunity to ask questions. No other platform like this exists in the country.
A combination of established and emerging designers showcased their collections in the evenings. The first night was for a gala dinner extravaganza to celebrate the KZN 10 year birthday. VIP guests were wined and dined and treated to a fashion show by the fashion council’s paid up members.
Kudos to the fashion council for their selection of designers from across South Africa. They had industry legends and change makers such as Thando and Vanya Mangaliso of Sun Goddess and Philosophy by Jenni Button , invited Indonesian designer Nonita Respati of label Purana, renowned designers Mzukisi Mbane of Imprint, Pelesa Mokubung of the Mantsho label, House of Fabrosanz founder Sandi Mazibuko,upcycling designer Katekani Moreku.
As well as emerging designers Makhosazane Ntshangase of label “Sistas Felas” , new in the scene where the designer has dressed the likes of the current Miss SA Zozibini Tunzi. Ntshangase was awarded the KZNFC Best Ladieswear Designer title.
Officiating the event, KZN MEC for Economic Development Tourism & Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) Nomusa Dube-Ncube, spoke on how fashion has a huge potential to put KwaZulu-Natal on the international map.
Overall, the AFX19 experience was unique , offering an interactive platform where one got to know designers and their work through the runway shows as well as the pop-up shops at the venue. It’s a great networking platform if you are in the fashion industry and it also offers an alternative to the usual fashion weeks.
* For more information on the fashion council and AFX19 visit www.kznfc.org
Recognising designers for their outstanding work, the KZN fashion council awarded these designers from around the country: