KZN Fashion Council ends operations due to financial challenges
DURBAN - The curtain has closed on the KZN Fashion Council (KZNFC) due to its financial woes.
With almost a thousand members KZNFC was said to be the largest of its kind in the country, a platform used by aspiring designers.
In an announcement made on social media, the council said the board passed the resolution to permanently close the business due to economic slumps, depleted funds, lack of funding and negative impact of Covid-19.
The council's demise comes as its sole funder, the KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism and Environmental Affairs stopped its financial support last year.
Since its inception in 2009, the council received funding from eThekwini Municipality and the department. However, the municipality pulled out after the establishment of the Durban Fashion Fair.
Matshediso Ndlovu, KZNFC Board Chairperson said they were notified of the department’s decision in October last year that the funding would be discontinued.
She said the council operated at the cost of about R1, 5 million annually for its programmes.
It hosted a variety of programmes, events, and activities, to increase market access opportunities for fashion designers and equip them with necessary business skills and networking opportunities, she said.
Ndlovu said they had tried everything they could to sustain the council, but Covid-19 worsened the situation.
“We have written many proposals to various potential sponsors but nothing positive has come at this point.
The department stopped funding us - stating that our core business was no longer their priority, they have shifted their focus to other entities. We were hopeful that we would be able to attract new funders since March, but the Covid-19 pandemic came and ruined everything. Most private companies have cut their corporate investment budgets due to Covid-19. The small business development had also made a promise but they had to sustain other business after the pandemic. We were left with no choice but to close down,” she said.
The council had taken designers to various fashion shows across the world. It also hosted its annual prestigious event – The Africa Fashion Exchange, considered as one of the biggest fashion weeks in the province.
“It is a huge blow to the fashion industry given the role played by the council, At some point, we took over 500 designers to the London fashion week. We have also brought well-established designers to inspire up and coming designers. They shared experiences and challenges. Networking sessions are very important to this industry for growth. We appeal to the government to also consider it as the country plans its economic recovery plans,” she added.
Fashion designer Sandi Mazibuko of House of Fabrisandz said the council programmes offered a good opportunity for up and coming designers.
“They did a great job for the fashion industry in the province, I think they opened opportunities for many designers who have reached the international level today. Their demise is a huge blow for many aspiring designers who would not have a platform to showcase their talent,” said Mazibuko.
Amanda Govender of Amanda May praised the council for its initiative. "I don’t believe it is the end but perhaps a break away for greater innovation to come."
Azande Ndebele of Sihlobo Designs was among the young designers who have travelled the world to showcase her talent. She said without the council she would not have collaborated with the best designers to get recognition she got.
EDTA did not respond at the time of going to print.