The fashion design industry is not only about designing clothes. It is much broader and there are many niche markets that you can tap into.
South Africa has a lot of talent and resources and the country can become the hub of the fashion industry on the continent.
Before 1994, the industry was predominantly white. The situation changed after 1994 as doors began opening to black designers. But there is still a need for more black designers.
Getting into the industry is not difficult because you can operate from home.
Many successful fashion designers started their businesses from their homes. They cut and sewed outfits and started selling them in the informal market while building a clientele.
Their businesses gradually grew as they started learning the tricks of the trade and how to control the cash flow.
Many people continue selling their designs in the formal and informal economies.
But many designers complain that it is difficult to maintain a correct balance between creativity and commercial success.
They complain about not being able to get finance for their stock and about the fierce competition from Asian products.
They find it difficult to sell their goods at competitive prices and at the same time to make a profit.
The industry is infested with counterfeit goods that are very cheap and this makes it difficult for designers to trade profitably.
But all this does not mean that the industry is one of doom and gloom. The industry can be very lucrative if you know what you are doing.
Tenacity and determination also play a big role in the success of the fashion business and though at times you will feel like giving up, you must keep going.
There are many opportunities and avenues one can explore. For example, the growth and recognition of South African fashion design resulted in the heightened visibility and activity of various interrelated industries.
These include modelling agencies, hairstylists and make-up artists, fashion media, fashion events and private boutiques, to name a few.
Since competition is so fierce, you need to have a good understanding of the industry.
Only those that have a clear understanding of what they are doing will make it to the top. These are the designers who invest their time and resources in nurturing their brands.
They also spend more time creating networks and establishing their reputation. In addition, these designers are also reliable.
There is hope for the industry. Both the government and the private sectors have committed themselves to facilitating the improvement of the industry.
Some measures are already in place and others are being put in place. The development of the Johannesburg Fashion Cluster is an example of measures being taken to develop the fashion industry.
A cluster is a combination of businesses that make up an informal clothing sector which includes traders, manufacturers, suppliers and contractors of maintenance equipment.
Since the designing job is daunting and sometimes tedious, it is imperative that designers hook up with partners who have various skills so that they can focus on designing winning outfits.