Aiming to turn East London into a cultural mecca, the Buyel’Ekhaya festival not only supports and showcases musicians, but has for the last few years also given established and aspiring fashion designers a platform during the festival.
Now in its third year, the Buyel’Ekhaya fashion show will take place at Hemingways Mall on December 14, where established South African designers Sonwabile Mdamase, Gert Johan-Coetzee and Linda Sithole, as well as Zimbabwean designer Nyasha Chimanye, will be showcasing their work.
Joining them will be five interns who have taken part in either an ongoing internship and/or a two-week mentorship and garment construction programme with internationally acclaimed designer Johan-Coetzee. “I believe we have so much talent in South Africa and it’s our job to find it, polish it and then send the designers out into the working world.
“That’s why I said ‘yes’ to the Buyel’Ekhaya programme,” said Johannesburg-based designer.
Johan-Coetzee has also been running his own bursary programme for the past eight years.
Throughout the Buyel’Ekhaya fashion programme, up and coming Eastern Cape designers are taught everything there is to know about the fashion industry – from how to design a collection and choose the right fabrics to how to deal with staff members.
“Everything they learn prepares them for the industry, especially the six-month internship, when they spend a lot of time with me and my team and learn how to run a fashion business,” said Johan-Coetzee.
“It’s a bit of a crash course for those who do the two-week mentorship, but all of them have come up with very interesting designs and are excited to showcase them.
“Fashion isn’t just about creating beautiful clothes.
“It’s about passion, and they all have it.”
The five interns, or proteges, each created a collection of five garments during their time with Johan-Coetzee, and these collections will make their debuts on the Buyel’Ekhaya catwalk.
Somerset East-born Thandolwethu Piliso, 31, one of the designers mentored by Johan-Coetzee, said he had learned so much, especially in the last month he spent with Johan-Coetzee completing his collection. “My collection is inspired by colourful textiles and polka dots. People can expect bright yellows, blues and orange garments. Gert really helped me to find my ground and style,” said Piliso.
East London-based fashion designer Linda Sithole said it was extremely exciting for Eastern Cape designers to have a platform like this to showcase their work.
“What is most exciting for me is to have the opportunity to showcase my designs alongside top designers like Sonwabile Mdamase and Gert Johan-Coetzee. It give us, as Eastern Cape designers, so much exposure,”