While township fashion shows are a far cry from those hosted in glamorous design centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town, they are a crucial platform for local designers. They provided a platform to show off the talent and skills of local designers, and helped get their names out there, said eKasi Fashion Week organiser Stephen Monoki.
The week-long show takes place five times a year in various parts of Ekurhuleni. Monoki told Vutivi News that he was inspired by his neighbour to start hosting the event. “My neighbour, who is a fashion designer, always complained that she does not have clients or access to the market,” he said. “I saw this as a problem and decided to come up with the solution of creating a platform whereby local fashion designers get to showcase their work and also gain access to the market.”
Monoki said that the first show, which was hosted five years ago, was very difficult. “We had 10 designers and 10 stalls, but we managed to give those designers the platform they needed,” he said. But over the years, the fashion show has gained attention. It has become a hub where designers, jewellers, craftsmen, models, beauticians and hair experts display their passion and their craft.
The fashion show also provides platforms for designers from African countries like the Congo, Lesotho and eSwatini. “We create those platforms for them so that they can grow their brands. We also have development classes where we teach them things like compliance and marketing strategies,” Monoki said. “Township fashion shows play a very important role in this regard because the platform we create gives these entrepreneurs a lot of light so that they can shine and create something from what they have.”
Siyabonga Madonsela, who is one of the fashion designers that regularly attend the week-long show, agrees that there are numerous benefits. Madonsela established his brand, Exclusivity, in 2018 and he is based in Tsakane in Ekurhuleni. He is currently involved in a programme where they teach sewing skills to children living in townships.
“Since they host the show five times a year, I am always in attendance. I get a chance to market my product and network with more people,” he told Vutivi News. “These fashion shows are very important because they give us exposure, something we as designers need. I also get to sell a lot of merchandise and reach a wider market.”
The next fashion show will be hosted on 26 February.