SA fashion designers off to London trade fair

30 July 2015 –  TWENTY curated South African designers have been selected to participate in the Pure London trade show, the UK’s biggest fashion trade show.

Cape Town Fashion Council (CTFC) CEO Bryan Ramkilawan on Wednesday said: “We are very excited about having 20 South African designers attend the Pure London trade fair.”

Speaking to the African News Agency (ANA), Ramkilawan said this was the very first time a trade mission of this kind had happened in South Africa’s fashion industry, with a large number of designers showcasing their wares at a single event.

The contingent of designers who are largely based in Cape Town, with one from the Eastern Cape and two from Durban would be leaving for London on Friday to participate in the three-day trade show which takes place from 2-4 August at London Olympia. They would be showing their ready-to-wear products with an emphasis on items that were unique, innovative, competitively priced and focused on ethical practices.

The labels of these 20 designers are: Selfi Couture, Capsule Collections, Towards Uhuru, Spilt Milk, Coppelia, Sitting Pretty Clothing, Thabo Makhetha, Cigar Clothing, Luli Pulani, The Adam and Eve Studio, Daddy & Fox, Hannah Collection, Label Collection, BlakListed Clothing, Jagadi Haute Couture, Lalesso, Pichulik, Good Clothing, Stefania Moreland and Magents.

Two of the labels, Lalesso and Stefania Moreland, would also be showcasing their collections at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT) event which takes place this week from July 31-August 1.

“We are very optimistic about South African designers being able to penetrate the European market,” he said.

“It is beyond just a fashion show. It’s about making contact with over 20,000 buyers,” Ramkilawan said.

The large retail-orientated Pure London trade fair, which focuses on ethical trade and fair trade, was an opportunity for designers to experience the European market. The fair attracts over 600 premium brands, emerging designers and a large number of buyers.

Alma van den Berg, designer and founder of the label Spilt Milk, told ANA that she was excited about going to London to showcase her Spring/Summer 2016 “Spring Tide” range.

“I feel truly blessed and honoured to be selected alongside with other phenomenal designers to represent South Africa at an international level. It’s a dream come true to be sponsored for such an prestigious event which would financially have only been possible in a few more years.”

She said she looked forward to the opportunities the fair would bring in terms of exposure to international buyers and “inspiring them to consider South African designs and products as a possible future investment, as we can offer ethically produced, good quality garment with exclusive designs,prints and quantities”.

“All products would be manufactured in South Africa, with 90 percent of these products being manufactured in Cape Town,” Ramkilawan said. This would be a huge boost to the country’s textile industry, and increase Cape Town’s attractiveness to investors in being known not just for tourism, but for design and business. Ramkilawan said the importance design had on any country’s economy could not be emphasised enough, for “design has a huge impact on both tourism and business, and people want to visit creative spaces”.

Speaking about the ethical and sustainable aspects of the products the designers would be showing at the fair, Ramkilawan said, “It’s all about customers knowing what the product is made from and how.”

This trade mission has been two years in the making though a partnership CTFC had with Pure London, he said.

“We want to show we are African, and at the same time, able to design on an international level,” Ramkilawan told ANA.

Each designer would have up to six square metres of retail space at the trade fair, and they would be situated next to each other.

The fair, he pointed out, would be an excellent collaborative and networking environment for the 20-strong contingent of designers.

Van den Berg succinctly summed up the importance of this opportunity, saying: “I am really looking forward to networking with fellow designers, buyers and industry players from around the world, and being inspired by their experiences in order to improve my business where possible on all fronts.” – ANA