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Soweto gets its first fashion week

By Sapa-AP | May 25, 2012 | COMMENTS [ 9 ]

STRUGGLING but deserving designers will get a chance to show work inspired by the creativity and history of Soweto's first fashion week under way now

Entrepreneur and Soweto Fashion Week organiser Stephen Manzini didn't ask designers to show extensive collections or charge them take part, unlike the country's more established fashion weeks.

Fashion blogger Mahlatse James says this gives a chance to designers who have not yet made a name to have a chance to show their work to boutique owners and potential investors.

"'Creatives' from Soweto do need their own platform," James said.

"If other fashion platforms cannot afford them that, they have to create their own."

Manzini acknowledges Soweto Fashion Week is an ambitious title for his three-day showcase of 16 designers.

Rehearsals were held in the parking lot and garden of a modest apartment borrowed from a tailor friend, in a northern Johannesburg suburb some designers found difficult to reach by taxi.

"We refused to be stopped because we don't have funding," said Manzini, who raised R60,000 from churches, business people and other sponsors for the event. His mother, a nurse, tapped her contacts and acted as chairwoman of the event, and is someone of whom he could bounce ideas.

Manzini is confident that in coming years, the event will grow to a full week and give many more designers an opportunity. He hopes to start his own business distributing designs that will first take the catwalk this week.

Soweto has long been known for its quirky sense of style, with designers splashing bright colours and urban sensibilities on everything from the latest silhouettes on European runways to reworkings of the dapper suits Nelson Mandela wore when he lived in the township in the 1940s. The older Mandela is best known for his relaxed but colourful shirts. But as a younger man, the son of a royal family was a political celebrity in Soweto, and dressed the part.

"The style that Nelson Mandela rocked in his day," and other looks from the 1940s and 1950s are popular among Soweto designers, said fashion writer James, who himself sports a shaved part in his hair, like Mandela had as a young man.

James, dressed on the day he was interviewed in a purple tartan bow tie and eye-popping blue shoes, also favours the bright colours and nerdy yet cool skinny silhouettes popularised by the Smarteez, a design collective from Soweto that has drawn international attention.

The designers in Manzini's shows aren't as recognisable as Smarteez. But the strikingly modern Soweto Hotel, one of Manzini's sponsors, has given them a classy stage with an evocative history.

COMMENTS [ 9 ]

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Mara why does everthing has to be Soweto???

What about Vosloorus..

May 25, 2012 7:50 | 0 replies

Sowetan - are you becoming a community newspaper? There is the rest of SA you know. I get the feeling this morning that you will next start a fundraiser to build a wall - around Soweto.

May 25, 2012 7:55 | 0 replies

ANC must go to soweto when the elections come cos every tax payers moneys money goes to improving only soweto, wht abt Vosloorus,Katlehong,Tembisa, other 8 provinces etc MXM

May 25, 2012 7:57 | 0 replies

what is the purpose of fashion weeks? Do the designers really get business?

May 25, 2012 8:0 | 0 replies

@Pointman Sowetan - are you becoming a community newspaper? There is the rest of SA you know. I get the feeling this morning that you will next start a fundraiser to build a wall - around Soweto.
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Very logic point, oh dont 4get the word sowetan comes frm soweto, they all get tenders by promoting the capital city of S Africa aka soweto n 4getting 2 promote other townships

May 25, 2012 8:6 | 0 replies

SOWETO!!!! Oh Ok,,,

May 25, 2012 9:8 | 0 replies

Leave SOWETO alone
Come 2014 you are still going to put the same government into power, so stop complaining and vote for someone who will take note of your townships.

May 25, 2012 9:19 | 0 replies

When is it???? I wnat to go and support my homies

May 25, 2012 9:19 | 0 replies

soweto is the only lokshn in Mzansi.

May 25, 2012 1:1 | 0 replies