Gert-Johan creating more opportunities for young designers

08 August 2019 - 12:00
By thango ntwasa
Gert-Johan Coetzee & previous bursary winner Christopher Gill.
Image: Supplied. Gert-Johan Coetzee & previous bursary winner Christopher Gill.

Famed for dressing local and international stars like Bonang Matheba and Oprah Winfrey, Gert-Johan Coetzee has also made immense strides creating opportunities for younger designers to make their mark.

As part of his contributions to Mandela Day, Coetzee raised over R396,000 to cover tuition fees for two prospective students who wish to pursue studies in fashion design as well as fashion communication and buying.

Studio manager assistant, Christopher Gill, is a previous beneficiary of the bursary which has since helped him fund his studies toward making his design dream a reality. While he may have grown up in a family that sews, Gill struggled with raising funds to pursue studies in fashion design.

“In 2014 a friend of mine who followed Gert-Johan on Instagram told me about the bursary, so I applied and I got it,” exclaimed Gill.

From Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, Gill grew up in a household full of fashion.

“Almost everyone in my family is involved in sewing in some way – both my grannies, my mom and my aunts are seamstresses, my grandpa is an upholsterer, my dad can draw,” Gill shares.

After moving to Lephalale in Limpopo, Gill took to working as a personal assistant to a hardware store owner. After his aunt helped spark a demand in is designs, Gill was in demand.

“I did it on instinct, with what I knew. I always knew I needed proper training if I wanted to achieve more. Studying something gives you so much more to work with,” says Gill, “One of my biggest challenges ever was when I got the opportunity to make a garment for a celebrity when I was in my first year of studies. I still doubted myself a lot, because not everyone is going to love your style and fashion sense.

However, Gill warns that there is more to the fashion industry then the perception of glamour.

“It asks a lot of you in hard work, long hours and determination. Even when you get things wrong some times.”

Designers who are interested in getting the bursary have until October 7.

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