African inspired outfits are gaining increasing popularity and it’s evident on social media platforms. The establishment of the Eastern Cape Fashion Council is giving aspiring designers an opportunity to grow their craft. Designs celebrate the rich African heritage in its bright colours, beads and unique patterns.
Young and edgy designers are changing the look and the narrative. Gone are the days where designs cantered around leopard print or imibhaco, known as traditional clothing. Customary concepts are now transformed into trendy outfits, fusing our unique culture with western styles.
MD for the Fashion Council Nwabisa Bunde says the Council will open more doors to designers.
“Africa as a whole has indigenous pieces of fashion that people are creating. I think that right now, while the spotlight is on Africa, it’s very important that we help our emerging designers to reach a global market as a whole. And especially here in the Eastern Cape, we are so undermined, but most of the creative sector is coming from the Eastern Cape. That’s why we are ploughing back into the Eastern Cape.”
One of the beneficiaries is shoe designer Hlobo Mbube. His handmade shoes are all the rage.
“Even if we relocate to other places to live or anything else, fashion is able to show us exactly where we are from as people. So it helps us a lot. I don’t see any other way that we can celebrate our heritage, except through fashion because even if we do a dance or film, it will always involve fashion at some point.”
An expert at redefining fashion is global MaXhosa sensation, Laduma Ngxokolo.
“For me, using heritage to celebrate fashion is something that is super important because it is the most distinctive element of all of us as AmaXhosa and as Africans. For some reason, it’s also the one element that is under looked that I thought that I will focus on, but come from a modern angle because a lot of people they always interpret it in a traditional way; which doesn’t come in an appealing way for the youth.”
Africa remains driven by the success of small to medium enterprises that employ 77% of the population. From clothing and food to household items, Eastern Cape Tourism and Parks Agency chairperson, Nomkita Mona, says the fashion industry is becoming a distinct area of growth.
“The fashion industry and the creative industry in general, they learned themselves so very well into small business promotion; into job creation because the young people they don’t have to wait to be employed elsewhere. If they are being creative, they can actually create their own jobs and the other jobs that come with it. So it does help in terms of the industry and in terms of the economy as well because the business of the future is going to be small businesses.”
The Eastern Cape Fashion Council says its ultimate goal is to help budding designers make it onto the global fashion stage.
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