CNN Marketplace Africa’: South African Fashion


South African Fashion Week not only allows local designers to display new trends, but also take them off the catwalk and straight to consumers.

On ‘CNN Marketplace Africa’ this week, host Eleni Giokos reports from South African Fashion Week in Johannesburg, examining how deals are made between designers and buyers. How do these partnerships help further the fashion industry in South Africa?

Attending the unveiling of South African Fashion Week’s 2016 spring and summer collection, Giokos witnesses some retail partnerships first-hand, including Bulelwa Lengisi, a specialist buyer for Edgars, the largest clothing retailer in South Africa.

Lengisi explains to Giokos what a retailer like Edgars looks for in the world of South African fashion: “For me, they need to make sure that they are commercial… I’m buying for the South African lady and I know right now she is squeezed so much on the market and has less in her pocket. So those are the things that I look into.”

The slogan for South African fashion week is ‘The Business of Fashion’, and in ‘Marketplace Africa’, Giokos observes a deal between Lengisi and Tshepo Mafokwane, a designer at the clothing line Sober.

The programme discovers that counterfeiting and overheads remain issues for designers, which can often affect negotiations with buyers such as Lengisi.

Isabelle Lotter, a designer for SIES! Isabelle, explains why such negotiations with buyers are so important for designers, telling ‘Marketplace Africa’: “I run an ethically sustainable factory, I pay fair wages, and my mark-up on this is less than what Edgars gets percentage-wise, so we need to educate the public about why they should be paying R700 for that dress. I create jobs for nine families, nine breadwinners; nine families. So that’s what people need to be aware of and why that dress is costing that much.”

Looking to the future of the South African fashion industry, Giokos speaks to Annette Pringle-Kölsch, a fashion agent and project manager at South African Fashion Week, who believes there is a great appetite for home-grown talent.

She tells ‘Marketplace Africa’: “The South African fashion industry has grown tremendously in terms of style and quality in the past years, and also the quality of manufacturing is much better.”


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