Bay designers reach top 20 of national fashion programme

Asanda Mali is taking part in a national programme, Threads Stitched
Picture: Gillian McAinsh

Two Bay fashion designers have made it into the top 12 of a national fashion accelerator programme aimed at teaching them business skills to match their creative flair.

The Threads Stitched by Standard Bank accelerator programme selected three winners from four provinces from an initial pool of 400 applicants.

The two Bay designers – Mal’Stones designer Asanda Mali, Evans Zemba of Walk In Closet Designs – along with East London-based former NMU student Yamkela Bridgette Lize, of Refined Revolt, were among 18 who made it to a bootcamp in Port Elizabeth, ultimately making the finals.

Nelson Mandela University fashion design graduate Thabo Makhetha, who moved to Cape Town recently, also made it through to the bootcamp in Cape Town.

Mali, who specialises in plus-size women’s wear, welcomed the opportunity.

“It means my brand is being recognised and it [dismisses] the idea that I have to move to Joburg to do well in my business.”

Mali also hoped to showcase her range in Dubai this month but said this would not interfere with the Threads programme as she left for Dubai yesterday and returns on Sunday, before the Threads classes resume next week.

Walk In Closet Designs is a men and women’s leisure wear brand. Designer Zemba said the programme was a good learning opportunity.

“This is a big, informative opportunity for me and I’m not taking it lightly,” he said.

Zemba launched his brand in 2015 with the aim to make a timeless high quality product.

Lize travelled from East London to Port Elizabeth to attend the bootcamp last month and said she also hoped to grow as a designer through the programme.

The finalists all attended their first class in Johannesburg last month before taking a break this week. They will resume on Monday.

Threads co-founder Tania Habimana said the 12-week programme equipped fashion entrepreneurs with various business skills ranging from marketing, customer development and logistics.

“We have four regional classrooms in Port Elizabeth, Durban, Joburg and Cape Town, and every Monday and Tuesday the candidates attend at their regional hubs where they will follow an academic curriculum over 12 weeks,” she said.

At the end of the programme, finalists will present a business case to a panel of judges who include businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo, branding guru Timothy Maurice Webster and designer Laduma Ngxokolo, after which one of them will be selected as the Threads winner.

The winner walks away with a 12-month MercedesBenz brand ambassadorship, a Standard Bank SME starter pack and an extensive all-expenses-paid business trip to Europe, where they will get the opportunity to pitch their business to relevant stakeholders.

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