No red carpet at SONA 2021 as fashion industry feels the heat
Johannesburg - This year's State of the Nation Address (SONA) will not be held with the usual red carpet glamour and most social events that have traditionally accompanied the fanfare around the opening of Parliament have also been cancelled.
The public are accustomed to the parade of fashionably turned out politicians, local celebrities and dignitaries which precedes the annual address by the president.
No one knows the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the changes to SONA proceedings better than the businesses involved in staging the annual event.
Politicians and invited usually order glamorous gowns, dresses and suits for the occasion, but this year there’s no clamour for a showstopping outfit that will impress fashion editors.
Local fashion designer Ephraim Molingoana, who owns Ephymol, said business has been down dramatically with no requests from clients.
"We have suffered a great deal. Covid-19 has changed a lot of businesses. We have had to restructure our lives and build up. We took a big knock and we do not have any support system from any government sector. It is a big loss for us.
“Being a household brand we have big clients from the government and high profile individuals who attend these type of ceremonies and now we have nothing,” Molingoana said.
He said the only way in which his business has survived was through regular clients who had continued to order clothes.
“Fortunately we still have our loyal clients here and there. We have had to re-imagine a new look,” he said.
Another local designer Hangwani Nenghovela, from Rubicon, said she also used to provide designer wear for clients who attend the SONA.
She said although it was a different environment, her business was able to survive during the pandemic because of restructuring. “We have gone the commercial route,” she said.
Another sector to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and a lack of feet in Cape Town was the restaurant industry.
Wendy Alberts from the Restaurant Association of South Africa said the sector has been heavily impacted by the pandemic in general, but a noticeable decline in the usual numbers for events such as SONA was noticeable.
She said a strategy needs to be created to help salvage the impact of the pandemic on the restaurant sector.