Christopher Strong at SAFW, but how accessible is the fashion?
For a very long time South Africans have been exposed to some of local fashion’s biggest names thanks to SA Fashion Week and the publicity it receives, but fewer consumers than what one may desire have been able to get their hands on some of the designers’ work. As a fashion writer and blogger I am often asked where to get some of the labels that people read about and a lot of the time the answer is not as simple as “YDE”. I know from personal experience that it sometimes feels like such a task to call a designer and order something directly from them. The reality is that shopping requires convenience and if it seems less than so we are often happy to settle for whatever is on offer. Accessibility, if I can make the point any much simpler, is the name of the game in the business of fashion retail.
The SAFW pop-up store, which goes up between 7 and 11 October in Sandton City’s Fountain Court, is not the first endeavor to create a space whereby local fashion is accessible. YDE is an outstanding example of such initiatives as is one Milisuthando Bongela who runs a stall in Parkhurst called Pulchritude once a month, selling some of the brands most of us only see in fashion spreads and at fashion week but never know where to get(or simply can’t get because no retailer stocks them).
Without discounting the efforts of major South African retail chains like Edgars, Woolworths and Mr Price- most notably on their sponsorship of ELLE’s New Talent- it must be said that one of South African fashion’s biggest hurdles is the fear displayed by retailers at vigorously supporting the local industry which results in the non-accessibility and slow paced growth.