At the end of 2017 we saw Edcon launch the Edgars Design Edit Proudly SA ladieswear capsule collection. The collection featured the works of talented young local designers who completed the pilot Edcon Design Innovation Challenge internship programme. The year-long education and mentoring platform is the result of a collaboration between Edcon and Runway Productions under the helm of local fashion industry doyenne, Lucilla Booyzen. The aim: to advance skills development and entrepreneurship in the local fashion sector.
SOUTH AFRICA SAYS YES!
Since going live at 10 Edgars stores country-wide in December 2017, some of the young designers under the Edgars Design Edit label have achieved sell-through rates of 50-60% within six weeks. This is better than traditional brands as well as offerings from established icons such as David Tlale.
Unsurprisingly to us, the star performer of the group is Hlengiwe Gavu. We can’t help but love the prettiness of her feminine Redemption label collection. One of Gavu’s styles sold out within days of reaching the stores. This is unprecedented for a new brand says Sandy Rodgers, former Edgars general manager of Design and Trend. Sandy recently launched independent retail consultancy, Ko-Op. She has been tasked with steering the project in collaboration with Lucilla Booyzen on behalf of Edcon’s transformation unit.
THE 21 STEPS PROGRAMME
A key component of the year-long internship is Booyzen’s 21 Steps Coaching Programme. The programme is an intensive, three-month immersion into all aspects of fashion design. From creative inception and technical craft development to final garment production. It is offered by a group of fashion industry experts that combine top guest lecturers such as Gert-Johan Coetzee and Black Coffee’s Jacques van der Watt, with a core team of permanent tutors, all hand-picked by Booyzen. Who better to learn from than South African fashion industry darlings like Gert-Johan Coetzee who has dressed local and international celebrities alike, including a Kardashian!
AN IDEAL FASHION INDUSTRY STEPPING STONE
Rodgers believes the success of the Edcon internship, lies in the fact that these fledgling designers are given an opportunity to create a collection under experienced supervision. They are mentored every step of the way by seasoned retail and fashion experts drawn together by Booyzen.
“To be financially supported and then have one’s products manufactured and put into store is very unique. There are many, many designers graduating from a number of different schools every year. Starting your own brand is extremely hard and working as a designer for a manufacturer or in a big retail environment is very limiting. This programme gives young designers an enormous stepping stone which they would not have had if they had just left college and started looking for a job or started their own business.”
According to Booyzen the truly distinguishing success feature of the 21 Steps Programme, is that the young designers are given the real inside track. The “secret to success” from a body of seasoned stalwarts.
“Our vision is to find, and then truly, nurture the design talent that will redefine the local fashion industry into the future,” she says.
If you missed your chance to purchase a piece of South African designer clothing from the Edgars Design Edit label, don’t be alarmed. We hear the next Edcon Design Innovation Challenge is currently underway. We can’t wait to see what the new batch of talented interns produce.
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