Success all round for AFX 2018

Media Release

1 October 2018

Durban, South Africa: The African Fashion Exchange (AFX) that has just been held in Durban, exceeded all expectations, the managing director of the KZN Fashion Council has said.

The three-day AFX which was hosted by the KZN Fashion Council brought together designers, crafters, manufacturers, buyers and industry experts had also brought the spirit of African fashion and creativity to the world.

“It was such a success. The feedback was that a very high standard was achieved. The audiences loved the fashions that were showcased and the speakers and panel discussions at the dozen knowledge-sharing sessions were also of a high standard and well received, “said Nisha Thavar. There was a “good vibe” throughout the event with designers and exhibitors appreciating that they had been given a unique opportunity to showcase and exhibit their talents and crafts to potential customers.

Business contacts were made and orders are likely to be in the pipeline for some. “There was positive feedback all round. It proved that there was a real need for such an event in the province,” said Thavar, adding that planning would start soon on next year’s AFX. AFX project manager Xolani Zulu said there had been a great response from designers and crafters to get involved in the event which had unfolded at the Greyville Convention Centre. AFX had catered for emerging, emerged and established designs. They had come from around KwaZulu-Natal, elsewhere in South Africa and from other African countries.

The theme was “Africa By Design,” and as he told an East Coast Radio interviewer you can get to Africa by plane, by boat, you can even get there by donkey “but rather get to Africa by design”. The message was to buy African and to support the local clothing and textile industry. “This is our time,” radio personality Vanessa Marawa said at the gala dinner on the first day of AFX.

The deputy mayor of the eThekwini Municipality, Fawzia Peer, told dinner guests that “we want fashion to be produced locally and be internationally recognised”. Guest speaker, Sihle Zikalala, the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs said to applause that he hoped to one day see “Made In Africa,” labels on clothing.

He said AFX was at the heart of ongoing efforts to position the province as the mecca of fashion. “This is the Africa gateway where fashion meets business,” he said, urging African designers to take advantage of such platforms to increase their knowledge so that they can become competitive. “We must be the best. We must become confident in what we produce. We must provide quality. If we remain stagnant and do not become innovative, we will become history,” he said.

Dr Joy Ndlovu, chairperson of the KZN Fashion Council added there were many challenges of lack of skills and training in the fashion business. Most studies have shown that there were problems with accessing markets, funding, and getting the right sponsors. “We just want to open up the industry so people can know where to go to, and how to maneuver in this space. The AFX is a good platform to teach designers how to become successful business people.”

The well-attended knowledge-sharing sessions provided delegates with an insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the clothing and textile industry. One of the issues that cropped up in several sessions was how South African culture was being hijacked-copied-by international brands. It was almost as it people did not appreciate what they had until someone else incorporated in their designs, one speaker said. While another speaker said such international companies had been “smart while everyone else was sleeping,” businesswoman and panellist Erika Elk advised designers to stay ahead.

“Get into the market as quickly as you can and establish your brand so when someone tries to rip you off, a whole community will say ‘that’s not cool because it belongs to someone else’,” she said. During a session on retailing, Kenneth Beja, the senior buyer at Edcon, said he no longer went to Paris to see the latest colours and fabric. “We need to have our own colour and fabric range without following the world,” he said, adding that he would love to have a local show with designers and weavers so he could take ideas for next year’s range.

“My main mission is to make sure people get jobs, which is why we are producing locally,” he said. He was currently working with a Durban designer on an ethnic range. One speaker, Lester Bouah of Trade and Investment KZN, responsible for export development and promotion, advised designers on how to get into the export market-and stay in.

”No one is an island; we have to work together to drive business. I can help you, but you also have to help yourselves,” he said. Meanwhile, down in the exhibition hall, several up-and-coming designers had entered a competition to make a skirt for Vanessa Marawa in just one hour. The designer who made the skirt the celebrity loved the best, got a brand new sewing machine from one of the exhibitors, while the designer who made the skirt that the KZN Fashion Council board liked, won another sewing machine.

A new aspect of this year’s AFX was the involvement of schools in the event, the chairperson said. Grade 12 pupils from several schools had been invited to the various Saturday sessions, including a rural school, the Sibusisiwe Technical Comprehensive High School in Umbumbulu, on the KZN South Coast.

“We have formed a new partnership with the schools to get kids from an early age to get interested in the textile and fashion industry. This has opened their eyes as to consider the fashion industry as a career option for pupils,” Ndlovu added.

Members of the media should confirm their attendance to Tankiso Moshoeshoe on 082 787 6987/ 079 317 6850. You are welcome to contact FBI Communications for any pictures and videos.

Miss Sew and Sew

29 September 2018

Four contestants were hard at work trying to shine today as they embarked on a one hour blitz to complete a garment skirt to win two sewing machines during the 2018 Africa Fashion Exchange, hosted by the KZN Fashion Council.

Sponsors Global Sewing and LS Sewing have offered up a Domestic CUDA CA820 Zig Zah stitch Machine and a Jack Direct drive f4 flat machine. After a lucky draw four contestants were chosen to get sewing, and their garments will be chosen by the KZN Fashion Council board members and radio personality Vanessa Marawa. Afterall the skirt is made for Vanessa.

The two winners will be announced on the final day of the AFX tonight at the Fashion Meets Film session.

Make-up and hair expert Stella Johnson, costume expert Nokubonga Ngobeni


29 September 2018

IF fashion designers want to get the attention on exporters, the easiest thing to do is to create a fashion film, delegates were told at the Africa Fashion Exchange in Durban.

“You have got to start somewhere. Get your foot in and work your way up. You have nothing to lose. Get you film out there and if something goes wrong, then make another one: you will be upskilling yourself,” advised award-winning Adrian Lazarus of Bokeh, the South African International Lifestyle and Fashion Film Festival based in Cape Town. “Pick up your cellphone and make a film,” he said.

He said film-making was all about collaboration. Go to a coffee shop and come up with a storyboard with colleagues, he said. “You have got to have great sound or you are going nowhere,” he said. Their fashion films could go on YouTube or they could submit them to film festivals, many of which cost nothing to get involved in. Stella Johnson, a makeup and hair expert, and Nokubonga Ngobeni, a costume expert, who are both involved in the popular TV soap Uzulo, told how they gave the characters their looks to fit in with the storyline.

They studied international trends and colour palettes, to give the show vibrant colours. The queenpin, Mangcobo, a woman’s rights character, was always in heels. Her character was more classy than others and shewlore chiffon and prints.

29 September 2018

DESIGNERS should think about the importance of their brand names and the influence they have on people’s sub-conscious minds, American social media guru Tim Maurice Webster said in Durban today.

He was giving a presentation about the power of social media at one of the knowledge-sharing sessions on the final day of the three-day Africa Fashion Exchange hosted by the KZN Fashion Council at the Greyville Racecourse Convention Centre.
The visiting expert, who has visited South Africa 68 times in 10 years from his home in New York and whose fourth book “Personal Brand Intelligence” is in the bookshops, specialises in how to get brands into people’s brains. “You have got to engineer desire. People don’t know what they want,” he said in an interview later. He told the audience that everyone had a dream-self: what their hair looked like, what their build was, where they lived. As a brand, designers had to get closer to people’s minds, create an intimate relationship with their social media followers.

If they can move, entertain and inspire them and provide an escape from their “struggling self”, it would take them closer to their followers dream-selves. “Life is tough and hard and you have got to be clear about your social media. If your page gives people the opportunity to escape this complex world-and buy something beautiful-your social media is on its way to an amazing place,” he said. Although people might have thousands of social media followers, 80% of them would never see their posts as they were either too busy or offline. He said that if someone like TV show host Trevor Noah posted everything he did and about everyone he met, it would take the thrill away from reading about him. He wondered if they were chasing their followers away by posting too much “or are you helping them to get closer to their dream-self?”

They should assess their real values and post about that, he advised. He said later that people often did not think through what they were posting on what was effectively a micro-publishing platform. He only posted two-three times a week as he did not want to overwhelm people.

“I want to offer value and hopefully, the message gives some level of escape,” he said, adding that he thought that postings should be about quality rather than quantity. On the question of the common mistakes that entrepreneurs make about social media, one of the session’s panellists, Nox Luthuli, the founder and managing director of Bloom Marketing, advised the audience to separate their brand profiles from their personal ones. That way, they would ensure that their strategies did not overlap, diluting their messages.

Fashion designer, Sandile Mlambo, who had been involved in Project Runway, said that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter people were not the same and he adjusted his posts to speak to the different audiences.

Tim Maurice Webster


Speaker Lester Bouah


29 September 2018

DON’T outprice yourself and remain passionate and focused about what you do.

That was the advice to designers attending one of the knowledge-sharing sessions at the Africa Fashion Exchange in Durban today by speaker Lester Bouah of Trade & Investment KZN, the provincial export development and promotion agency. Bouah told designers all about exporting and how the agency, along with the Department of Trade and Industry, could support their export plans.

He told them what they should do to get into the export market and how to stay in. “No one is an island. We have to work together to drive business. I can help you but you also have got to help yourself. “We never sit in our offices and not answer our phones,” he said to applause. He told them that awareness about their products was critical and advised them to take advantage of all the various platforms that were available. “Join networks and associations like the KZN Fashion Council.

“The Vodacom Durban July is a wonderful platform. Get someone to walk around in your design,” he suggested. They should learn the export jargon that they would have to know to market their designs internationally, but if they were not sure of the various codes that were needed, they could turn to the agency for help.

He said they could not buy something from China or India and put a button on and claim it had local content in order to export. “There must be some local fabric. At the end of the day, we want to create jobs…where is the value, where are the jobs?” he said.

Make-up and hair expert Stella Johnson, costume expert Nokubonga Ngobeni


Chairperson of the KZN Fashion Council, Dr JM Ndlovu; Social Partners; Our Most Important Guests: The Fashion Designers; Ladies and Gentlemen;

27 September 2018

Good Evening!

It is an honour to address some of the best creatives in the fashion industry from our country, our continent, and those who are visiting the Kingdom of the Zulus from across the seas.In its second year, the Africa Fashion Exchange, is already boldly asserting a confident African identity through African designs and fashion.

It is already defining an era where African fashion designers are claiming their space and creativity to define the Africa of their future. They are leading an identity, fashion, and beauty revolution that says in the global village of nations, there is a family of Africans who do not only take from their neighbours, but also contribute to world culture and human civilisation. And as the province of KwaZulu-Natal, events like this one are at the heart of our ongoing efforts to position KZN as a mecca of fashion. Understanding the challenges of accessing markets by African designers, we are saying that this is Africa’s gateway where fashion meets business. The Africa Fashion Exchange can be seen as a market intelligence, thought-leadership, business exchange and market access platform programme driven by the KwaZulu-Natal Fashion Council (KZNFC). The purpose of the event is to drive fashion and design in the province, ensuring a national and continental competitive and sustainable fashion business for the fashion and design sector. This event is an important step in addressing the challenge of a lack of sustained exposure of their designs to markets.This has resulted in African designers being less competitive than designers from Europe and Asia - and hence contributing to the decline of such an important the industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen,KwaZulu-Natal constitutes a variety of young fashion design talent, innovation, and business acumen. It is pleasing to note that this sub-sector of our economy embraces young fashion design expertise which is in line with our government’s commitment to actively draw young people into the core of our country’s economy. By harnessing and developing this talent through funding of developmental and skilling programmes, our department seeks to reposition the fashion design business in the province as one of the major contributors to the gross domestic product of KwaZulu-Natal. The KZN Fashion Council has already undertaken numerous capacity building programmes around the province of KwaZulu-Natal. We must succeed because our success will mean the growth, and success of locally manufactured fabrics and textiles that provide the inputs to the local fashion industry.

As EDTEA, we are invested in supporting new talent and innovators who will also lead in revolutionising the industry by utilising environmentally sustainable materials to create products that have a truly KZN and African signature. Africa Fashion Exchange also seeks to celebrate and recognise emerging and established entrepreneurs in the business of fashion.

We are happy to learn that the “Emerging Youth and Plus Size” designers are showcasing their designs after having been trained in technical skills and business skills.We are therefore truly at a design marketplace to contribute our diverse and rich African dreams about how the future of global fashion should look like.And embedded in the event are the Knowledge Sharing Sessions. This is the unique feature of AFX as these are bringing to Durban various speakers who possess a wealth of expertise and experience in this cut-throat industry and its value chains.

And we applaud the organisers for making these sessions open to members of the public.To all the designers, we wish you well in your endeavours.Keep dreaming. Keep imagining. Keep designing. And keep unlocking the markets. By all accounts, Africa is the next growth frontier.In our continent alone, we have a market of more than a billion people.And the globe is paying attention to the potential of Africa, its dreams, its beauty, its designs, and its fashion.In the world of digitisation, knowledge economy, and the 4th Industrial Revolution, we look to African designers like yourselves to shape the new agenda of inclusive growth, industrialisation, and justice for the people of Africa.Africa must again be known as a global leader in manufacturing, not just a continent known for conspicuous consumption.

Our government is ready and willing to work with you to sell the unique African story and open world markets for your designs.We look to your inspiration. We look to your designs that will create an Africa at peace with itself and the world. Through arts, culture, and fashion design we can create the images that unite people.And South Africans yearns for this unity which can be better led by creatives like yourselves.History always show that without a cultural revolution in fashion, the arts, music, and literature, it is difficult for any society to achieve an economic revolution.We therefore look to you – through your designs – to lead the path to define a South African identity that is at peace with its African identity. We look to you to bring on board our crafters and mothers in rural areas who still possess unique indigenous design skills to inspire your works and for them to access income-generating opportunities.

It is you, through your special talents and enterprising spirit, that must be the warriors that will defeat the scourges of poverty, unemployment, and inequality.Allow me to leave you with the words of the 1st President of Guinea, Ahmed Sékou Touré who said: “We should go down to the grassroots of our culture, not to remain there, not to be isolated there, but to draw strength and substance there from, and with whatever additional sources of strength and material we acquire, proceed to set up a new form of society raised to the level of human progress.”

Let me again welcome you to a province that is a continental hub of creativity and which synonymous with beauty, warmth, and courage. Please make time to visit many of our historical sites, meet our people, and be inspired in your designs of our rainbow nation. I thank you.

All systems go as AFX kicks off


Chairperson of the KZN Fashion Council, Dr JM Ndlovu; Social Partners; Our Most Important Guests: The Fashion Designers; Ladies and Gentlemen;

27 September 2018

Good Evening!

Durban, South Africa: September 27, 2018: IT’S “all systems go” for the provincial African Fashion Exchange (AFX) extravaganza, the chairperson of the KZN Fashion Council, Dr Joy Ndlovu, said just before cutting the ribbon to open the event this morning. The KZN Fashion Council, which predicts that AFX will put the region on the global fashion radar, is hosting the three-day action-packed event at the Greyville Racecourse Convention Centre from September 27-29.

“Everyone is excited. All our stakeholders are on board and we are all geared up for a great time,” she beamed. “We have local and national designers showcasing their fashions as well as internationally-known designers from other African countries.” She told guests that the KZN Fashion Council was on a mission to revive the fashion and textile industry and had a range of initiatives to help achieve that. Nisha Thavar, the managing director of the KZN Fashion Council, said that the show was the key to the survival of the fashion industry.

The theme, “Africa By Design” would highlight how the fashion design and textile sector was an industry that had the potential to contribute to the continent’s economy and fight the plague of poverty and unemployment. Masana Chikeka, programme manager (design) at the Department of Arts and Culture, said that the department was not only supporting AFX, but was also looking for strategic partnerships. It had a mandate for skills development and there were opportunities for young designers, she said.

A new aspect of this year’s AFX was the involvement of schools in the event, the chairperson said. Grade 12 pupils from several schools had been invited to the various Saturday sessions, including a rural school, the Sibusisiwe Technical Comprehensive High School in Umbumbulu, on the KZN South Coast. “We have formed a new partnership with the school and the pupils are looking forward to Saturday. Their careers guidance counsellor is also thrilled as this event has opened her eyes as she had never even considered the fashion industry as a career option for pupils,” Ndlovu said.

The partnership will be a long-term relationship too as there is the prospect that the KZN Fashion Council will help out with the pupils’ matric dresses. As well as finding out all about the fashion industry on Saturday, the school-goers will also be able to shadow the service providers involved in the AFX, giving them an even further unique insight into the business. As soon as the ribbon-cutting ceremony was over, delegates got down to the serious business of knowledge-sharing, giving them the chance to listen and learn from industry thought-leaders and trend-setters on a range of topics affecting and challenging the fashion and related industries.

There will be four topics a day, with speakers and panelists debating the industry’s hot issues. Trends, Textiles, “the 4th Industrial Revolution in the fashion design industry” and “The African Body” (a special research presentation) are on the agenda today, to be followed tonight by an invitation-only gala dinner showcasing the first of the designers. Tomorrow’s topics are: (9am) “African Luxury” which will question when African brands will take their place alongside the leading luxury global powerhouses. At 10am, the spotlight will be thrown on “Cultural Appropriation-Theft or Innovation”, a discussion about the protection of intellectual property.

Fit and Sizing is the topic at 11am (there will also be a demonstration), followed at noon by the all-important subject of “Retailing (and what it takes).” Then, from 6-9pm, there will be evening of fashion shows for invited guests. Saturday’s knowledge-sharing sessions kick off at 9am with another important issue: “The Power of Social Media”, following at 10am by another hot subject “Business Intelligence.”

At 11am, the importance of “Pan African Export” is on the agenda, followed at noon by the final knowledge-sharing session, “Fashion Meets Film.” And, from 6-9pm, audiences can look forward to yet more fashion shows, by invitation only. Exhibitions by talented crafters will run throughout the three days of AFX. All the knowledge-sharing sessions, the fashion shows and exhibitions are free.


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