Two designers catch SAFW eye

Octayvia Nance

THIS year not one but two young designers from Nelson Mandela Bay – with totally different styles – have made it to the semifinals of a national fashion talent search competition.

NMMU fashion design graduates Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana and Laz Yani are among the nine semifinalists of the SA Fashion Week (SAFW) Renault New Talent Search 2013, for which they have to conceptualise an eight-garment collection by September 20.

“I am super ecstatic to be chosen as a semifinalist.

“It’s a platform for being recognised on a national level,” Makhetha-Kwinana said, while her former classmate, Yani, said he felt very honoured.

“I feel very honoured to be selected as one of the semifinalists. I have been invited by the organisers to enter and already showcased my work twice before,” Yani said.

South African fashion icons Lucilla Booyzen and Dion Chang started the talent search to give young designers an opportunity to build their brands and develop their potential.

The competition aims to identify South Africa’s hottest design talent, and also provide the winning designer with a springboard (and therefore competitive business advantage) into SA’s vibrant fashion arena.

Stutterheim-born Zano Sithetho won the young designer search award at SAFW last year with his slick and tailored menswear label, Skorzch.

To enter, contestants had to submit a portfolio with eight original sketches of women’s clothing, made of natural fabrics. The portfolio had to include a short biography, as well as a forward-looking vision of where the designers saw their brand going and how they intended to drive it there.

They also had to comment on the concept of the collection, with material or images which have inspired the collection.

Makhetha-Kwinana stuck with the blanket theme she is known for and calls her collection Bohali, which focuses on royalty and the sophistication of women.

“The idea of my collection focuses on taking something that is cultural and rather than leaving it behind when one moves into the city and progresses, to take the culture with you and let it too grow … and find it within the modern society.

“Materials I used for this collection include the 100% wool Basotho blankets with stretch cottons, wool knits, chiffon silks and tulle,” she said.

Yani said his collection was a continuation from his previous ensembles.

“My collection represents freedom and women empowerment. My last collection represented women who were in search of their identity in South Africa.

“Thabo is one of my very best friends. We actually studied together and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. My only competition is with myself. I compete with my last designs,” he said.

They are required to submit a 100-word biography or inspiration for their collection, as well as a label logo and profile image before September 1.

The finalists will be chosen to showcase their collection at the SA Fashion Week Autumn/Winter Collections in October, where the winner will be announced.

All the semifinalists will receive access to the Buyers’ Lounge to conduct market research among 40 other designers and more than 60 buyers from across the country.

“We all get to display our designs so even if I don’t win, I am still very happy with the exposure I’ll receive,” Makhetha-Kwinana said.

The winner will receive prizes to the total value of about R130000, which includes; space on the Renault South Africa stand at the SAFW Pop Up Shop in Sandton to the value of R7000; a R20000 cash prize from Renault South Africa to help further their fashion business; being flown to Berlin to attend Berlin Fashion Week, as part of a travel seminar in June 2014, to the value of R30000; the use of a branded Renault Megane Coupe for a year (inclusive of insurance, but excluding petrol), valued at R60000.

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