WATCH: Mapping a future in fashion

Zealous young Eastern Cape-based aspiring fashion designers came out in numbers to participate in this year’s round of the Buyel’ekhaya fashion development workshop at the Miriam Makeba centre yesterday.

Eighty contestants participated in the workshop, but only 10 qualified to attend the mentorship programme with renowned fashion designer Thula Sindi.

The number of finalists is up by two from eight last year.

The 10 finalists will travel to Johannesburg for an internship from November 6-15.

The workshop was facilitated by fashion powerhouse David Tlale.

The programme is an empowerment initiative of the Buyel’ekhaya Pan African festival and is being held in partnership with the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M Seta) and the National Lotteries Commission. The purpose is to motivate young, ambitious and talented designers who wish to pursue a career in the field, and to expose them to the opportunity of working with the best in the industry.

Nadah M creations, founder Nadah Mfenqe, 34, said: “I’m nervous and appreciative of the opportunity to attend this workshop.”

Mfenqe is a passionate designer who has a small clothing line that is based in King William’s Town.

“My mother used to sew. I decided to try it out as well and fortunately I ended up loving it,” she said.

Her speciality is African print.

Walter Sisulu University third-year fashion design student Lusanda Kapayi, 24, said: “I chose this field because I want change, not only for myself but also for the fashion industry. David [Tlale] has encouraged me to aim higher. “From just being here I have learnt a lot. I am now more than ever motivated to compete with big names in the industry.”

Tlale said: “The programme is based on skills transfer, making sure that the industry grows and to change the state of South African fashion.

“My expectations are much higher this year. I hope the designers have got their act together.”

Tlale emphasised the need for designers to “bring back pride and integrity” to the fashion industry.

Finalists are expected to design garments that will be showcased at the Buyel’ekhaya fashion show on December 15 at the Orient Theatre.

The panel of judges will include leaders in the fashion industry such as Laduma Ngxokolo (MaXhosa), David Tlale, Thula Sindi and Gert-Johan Coetzee as well as Mozambican designer Taibo Bacar. The Seta’s representative Lungile Dlamini congratulated the participants saying this was an opportunity of a lifetime.

“Our mandate is to train young people and provide funding for their businesses. We want to see future designers coming from the Eastern Cape,” she said.

Programme manager Phoebe Phokonpe said: “It’s encouraging to know that young people are partaking in this workshop.

“I am happy with the fact that they came out in numbers to participate,” she said. —