Three local beneficiaries of the Transnet Port Terminal’s Enterprise Development programme have recently flown the flag for South Africa – and KwaZulu-Natal – in London.
Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) recently co-ordinated the participation of three KwaZulu-Natal companies in Africa Fashion Week held in London in October 2022. The three companies – Gugu Mobile Boutique, LN Watches, and Sluvin Designs – are beneficiaries of Transnet Port Terminal’s Enterprise Development programme which is facilitated in partnership with Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal.
South African representation at Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) has been undertaken since 2013, with the exception of 2016 and 2017 due to funding constraints. Trade & Investment KZN was then requested to co-ordinate local businesses participation by the South African High Commission in London. After consultation with the KZN Fashion Council and the dti sector desk for Clothing, Textile and Apparel, TIKZN has committed to facilitate the participation of KZN entities at Africa Fashion Week London 2018 and 2019.
Founded in 2011, Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) was launched in the UK, inspired by the idea that African fashion needed a voice and representation outside of Africa, helping to connect a generation. With a collaborative catwalk, an exhibition and business development programme leads the way in highlighting Africa’s emerging designers and apparel industry, and has been at the forefront of bringing awareness of Africa’s burgeoning fashion industry to the international market.
Over the past eight years, AFWL has hosted more than 800 emerging designers and exhibitors from Africa, and almost 70 000 visitors including buyers, retailers, influential industry professionals, and the media, and is now regarded as a highlight on the annual fashion calendar. AFWL offers exhibitors, not just a platform to showcase, but further value through contacts, experience and market knowledge. AFWL is also helping to shed light on a new global African narrative, maintaining its position as the largest and longest-running, culturally diverse fashion and trade exhibition in Europe.
This year AFWL celebrates its 10th consecutive year, and continues to increase the visibility and awareness of African designers by providing them with an affordable global showcasing platform. Featuring established and aspiring designers, the event helps nurture African-inspired fashion, design, culture and clothing manufacturing across the industry.
Participants this year included:
• Ms Gugu Bhengu, director of Gugu’s Mobile Boutique. The company complies with customer specifications and is able to manipulate material into a high-quality product. The company is innovative and able to read a customer-designed product. It collects, analysis, organises and critically evaluates information about the material, tools and equipment, identified and selected for production of craft products.
• Mr Lunga Smangaliso Aphomo Ntuli, director of LN Watches. The brand aims to make each watch relate to a story depicting the spirit of the Zulu nation. Our team – 90% young African women – has mastered the art of crafting African watch straps with a variety of beads.
• Ms Slu Mokoena, director of Sluvin Design. Over the past 10 years, a noticeable change has developed in the South African fashion design sector. Rather than merely adopting international designs, fashion designers have creatively adapted their designs to create a South African identity. Local brands have become increasingly popular in Europe, many of them reflecting the unique cultural blend of South Africa.