In our search for great local fashion, we learned of Edcon’s initiative to mentor young design talent which it launched at the end of 2016. Edcon’s Design Innovation Challenge is a fashion education and mentoring platform for young designers. The program aims to advance skills development and training in the local fashion industry. It affords designers an opportunity to learn more about the business of fashion, and showcase their designs to the public.
We keenly observed the journey of last year’s designers, and were excited to see what the graduates selected to participate in the Edcon Design Innovation Challenge 2018 would produce. Last week we attended a fashion show held at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, to showcase their designs. Here is a quick video we made of our favourite collections:
EDCON DESIGN INNOVATION CHALLENGE 2018
Now in its second year, the Challenge includes the 21 Steps To Retail programme and a year-long mentorship with the Edcon group. 21 Steps To Retail is a 3-month training programme facilitated by Runway Productions, organiser of SA Fashion Week. The purpose of the programme is to bridge the gap between design skills and business knowledge. Additionally, the young designers have the opportunity of seeing their designs sold in Edcon stores.
We saw 5 ladieswear designers from the class of 2017 achieve success when their designs hit the Edgars stores at the end of last year. Edgars will be selling 6 of the menswear collections later this year in August. Edcon also employed five of the 2017 finalists. The remaining participants are either pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities, or have been employed elsewhere. A wonderful outcome for these young designers.
THE CLASS OF 2018
This year, 13 graduate students have been selected as Challenge entrants from design colleges around the country. The fashion show served as the first opportunity for the participants to show their designs to the public, and to announce this years’ winners of the programme. Each of the 13 finalists, had the opportunity to show a portfolio of their work, comprising a full eight-piece collection.
The winners of the 21 Steps To Retail programme are selected on the merit of their designs, as well as a number of other characteristics. These include inter alia, their professionalism, organisation skills and ability to adhere to hectic fashion industry deadlines.
Zahnri Gertse who founded her “Virtual SA” streetwear brand in 2018, was announced as this year’s winner. We loved the bold colours and easy to wear silhouettes of her designs. Neo Rangaka, of “BLVINK” was awarded second prize with her range of men’s streetwear. Cordelia Maponya placed third with her futuristic, women’s ready-to-wear brand, “Eclectic Luxe”.
EDCON IS COMMITED TO THE LOCAL FASHION INDUSTRY
Edcon want this Challenge to build on the talent of young local designers, and teach them the skills to thrive as fashion entrepreneurs. The strategy is simple. To extend the number of local designers and manufacturers from which Edcon can source merchandise for its stores. Edcon is currently the only fashion-retailer to be Proudly South African accredited. This requires that, inter alia, at least 50% of the cost of production must be incurred in South Africa and the “product must be of a proven high quality”. By nurturing young fashion entrepreneurs, Edgars hopes to increase this number.
Mercia Maserumule, Executive of CSI & Sustainability, explains how the selection of the young designers for inclusion in Edgars stores is a validation of the goals of the programme: “The results achieved thus far resonate with what we aimed to achieve, which was to adopt a diversified approach integrating CSI, skills and entrepreneurial development in order to drive local talent development and support the business supply chain. The result has been the creation of a pool of talented young designers who are equipped to succeed on their own terms.”
This is a Proudly South African initiative that builds futures and creates jobs for young fashion industry professionals. Equilibrio is an avid supporter of local designers and are very excited to see large retailers investing in the local fashion industry. The more we invest in our local fashion, the more we can build and grow the industry.
(RELATED POST: Edcon and Proudly South African #Wearlocal Preview)
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