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Inaugural Africa Fashion Week to bolster continental design industry
13
Mar '09
The African fashion industry will be scoring the winning goal during the upcoming FIFA Confederations Cup in June, with the announcement of the inaugural Africa Fashion Week taking place in Johannesburg in June.

African Fashion International (AFI), which runs Cape Town, Joburg and Durban fashion weeks, will present an eight-day showcase of the continents' leading designers from 12 to 19 June 2009 at the Sandton Convention Centre, culminating with the African Fashion Awards. Africa Fashion Week will replace the more localised Joburg Fashion Week on this years spring/summer calendar.

“Global attention will be firmly focused on Joburg during the Confederations Cup, and Africa Fashion Week will afford the continent's top design talent the opportunity to attract world's attention, says Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, AFI chairperson.

“It is our mission to take African fashion to the world and this Pan-African showcase is a fulfilment of that aspiration.”

Dr Moloi-Motsepe added that African Fashion Week would benefit the South African textile industry, inter African trade as well as capitalise on global interest in the continent as a creative source.

“Inter-African trade is an underexploited source of growth for Africa whose share of global trade is only 2 percent. In 2006, only 16% of South Africa's exports were destined for the continent, yet it is widely acknowledged that increased inter-African trade is a way to improve the economic environment of the continent and establish an economic infrastructure that will attract more capital investment. “

Dr Moloi-Motsepe continued “The fashion business is a serious one and in these turbulent times, the industry needs all the support it can get. In South Africa alone, the clothing and textile sector generated sales of over R18.4 billion in 2006 and the sector contributes 1.8% to overall employment in this country. By comparison the British creative industry brings in 21 billion Pounds Sterling but there is no reason why we cannot compete in the global market by focusing on our own unique selling points, lower volumes, higher price points and creativity.”

It is in the creative realm that African influences are already being seen in international collections; a trend, which Claire Hamilton of global fashion consultancy WGSN New York, believes is only going to grow.

“Tribal or ethnic prints have been popular on the runways for several seasons and right now the “African” aesthetic – defined especially by textile patterns, or beadwork – is very appealing.”

The most recent issue of T Magazine, the fashion supplement created by The New York Times, features a fashion shoot that looks at African motifs in design, showing items from Louis Vuitton, Missoni and Oscar de la Renta in this “African” context.

New York Fashion Week held in February this year hosted an African Fashion Collective featuring designers Xuly Bet (Mali), Stoned Cherrie (SA), Momo, and Tiffany Amber (Nigeria) showing off an array of African inspired collections and presidential prints.


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