Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Almost everyone in the fashion industry has sung the “National Fashion Council” chorus at one point or another. And now that it is finally becoming a reality, it may be time for all to sit down and look at what this council really means for our fashion industry.
|A model struts it in Black Coffee at SAFW in March this year|
iFashion reports that the council may be up and running as soon as December this year, but when one thinks that December is actually three months away now, surely there must be some sort of model the government is looking at for the establishment of the council. The impression I get from reading the iFashion report is that, although much time and effort has gone into researching what the fashion council should be, those tasked with making it a reality still have no clue what they want to do.Now, let’s not be critical for the sake of it, but if I may, let me just point out a few things that should raise the alarm bell when one earmarks December as the date at which the council will be launched.
According to the report, it is envisaged that the national council should have no jurisdiction over regional bodies, namely the KZN and Cape Town Fashion Councils that already exist. I’m not sure what informs this idea, but I foresee unnecessary chaos.
The findings of the research into a possible model for the NFC were presented by UKZN Professor Justin Barnes, who works for B&M Analysts, the company commissioned by the DTI to do the research.
iFashion further reports:
He presented a proposed framework that placed a National Fashion Council Industry Board overseeing a CEO that would then implement a four pronged approach to the South African fashion industry. Barnes put forward the NFC’s primary objectives as encouraging and implementing the international profile and exposure of South African fashion; mentoring and monitoring the phased development of SA designers; celebrating and recognising individuals, organisations and the industry in its entirety through competitions and recognition of achievement; and facilitate educational standardization and accreditation.All good, all well, but Barnes goes on to say that he “sees no place for fashion week owners on the board of the council as they have vested interests in the industry that may cause complications”.
This means Lucilla Booysen, who convened SA Fashion Week back in 1997, as well as AFI, who organise Joburg, Cape Town and Africa Fashion Week will not be included on the board.
For me, this in itself is the complication. Is the point of creating a National Fashion Council not to unite South African fashion behind one vision?
Barnes, himself, reportedly notes that “the market wanted more foresight and planning when it came to the timings of fashion weeks and that they should exist more as a merchandise offering for the big retailers rather than an entertainment entity”.
Yes, fashion week has to stop being a place to be seen and start being more business focused, which I think SAFW, specifically, has tried to make a reality for quite some time now. Yes, we do need some foresight and planning in the timings of fashion week. Secondly, let’s not shy away from it, we need to get a structure and get rid of the fifty fashion weeks chaos currently in place.
I interpreted the report as saying that the NFC doesn’t want to meddle with fashion weeks, yet it wants to have a say in them.
If I am indeed correct in my interpretation, then this council really won’t know what the hell it is doing. The industry needs a unifying force that will kick commercialism out the window and force the current owners of fashion weeks to work together, under the NFC’s umbrella. The commitment to building the fashion industry will only be illustrated by a willingness to pull together under the auspices of a non-profit. Failure to do so will only exhibit greed. We must reject the commercialisation of fashion week at the expense of designers and the broader industry. Yes, there are many other concerns that the NFC is addressing in it’s current, proposed form, but it would be a mistake for them to think that the issue of fashion week does not spill out into the rest of the industry. It affects editors, buyers and, most importantly, the designers themselves and the springing up of fashion weeks every year creates a notion that it is some sort of party, thereby fuelling the false idea of fashion’s frivolity. We need uniformity but this must not push researchers and even the government, however noble its desires, to rush into something that may turn out more chaotic than the present situation.
Monday, August 22, 2011
For the first time, Marie Claire has included a blogger category in its annual Prix D'excellence De La Mode Awards and one of my favourite local bloggers, Malibongwe Tyilo of Skattie What Are You Wearing, takes home the prize. Just to give you a glimpse into his work, here are some shots of yours truly, shot by Mr Skattie What himself (that's Mali). His blog is, for me, the one place in local fashion you have gotta be seen at!
Sunday, August 7, 2011
The supply chain is rather dodgy and designers are just not getting their business models to work. That’s if they even have business plans to start with. For the most part, I doubt they do.
We have a relatively young industry that still struggles with many things, including its own identity. For this reason, even though it has become a lot better these days, fashion directors and editors struggle to find (or sometimes even get) locally produced fashion to put in their editorials.
However important these points may be- in my books anyway- what I’d like to tackle here is what I encountered this past week with a True Love fashion spread that I believe should have never made it into the pages of a magazine that we have all seen rising from fashion mediocrity to being a respectable (in some respects) voice in the industry, thanks to its current editor Sbu Mpungose.
I’ve often complained about the level of content space that magazines and even the media at large afford the industry and I can’t see how anyone could dispute that True Love was addressing this in their own way.
In their August issue, however, I was dumbfounded when a friend of mine pointed out that one of the fashion spreads was a cut ‘n paste of one done by American Vogue creative director Grace Coddington, about 18 months ago.
The shots, the poses, the entire story behind the shoot, were an almost literal remake (rather than being a take) of Coddington’s shoot. Some have pointed out how there is nothing wrong with referencing global magazines, and I have, rightfully, defended the concept of referencing. In doing so, however, one does have to differentiate between that and copying. What True Love did here was to copy and claim Grace Coddington’s concept as that of the stylist responsible.
This is rather disappointing and a blow for the integrity of the fashion editors’ profession, but beyond this- for me- it highlights a failure to cultivate South Africa’s rich heritage and storytelling traditions in conveying our talent for using fashion to tell stories, as I believe any good fashion editor should do.
I believe everyone in the fashion industry, for it to grow to its full potential, should be held to the highest standard, be it designers, stylists, fashion editors, publicists and even us, the fashion media and blogosphere. No one should be immune to criticism and we should often exhibit our love for the industry by participating in forums of discussion to evaluate and improve whatever it is we do.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
|BRITISH MARIE CLAIRE|
PICS: The Telegraph