Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Not sure how this is going to go down but I suppose I have done this a few times before and more then anything found it cathartic in the extreme........alternatively I pissed off a few people oh and I think made some good friends out of it. So if you are wondering if this is an attempt at giving you my opinion on fashion, posting pictures of badly dressed people or snappy dressers or just a platform to share my opinion.........well you darn right!

As opposed to many other PC blogs I hope this does not deteriorate to a dreary expose of Long St in Cape Town, exalting badly designed (or made) product or even worse a saccharine coated showcase of the mundane and mediocre.
Having said all of this please don't feel obliged to follow this blog nor think it's a panacea to fashion in SA or your personal wardrobe crisis........I hope it evolves into something more then just hemlines for the season..........

So lets get started...........
I think that this blog will feature things that interest me as a designer and hopefully will give you some insight into what makes me do the things I do, say the things I say and the myriad of things that inspire me. Yeah as I said you don't have to read on.........you might do better and start your own blog!!!!!
Oh and do feel free to comment after all I like healthy discussion and debate........

Let's start with fashion since I am a designer and its something that consumes most of day........
Post fashion week malaise has set in for many designers in SA and whilst some of us are riding the success of our shows I can't help feeling sorry for those that are sitting back wondering ...'What now...?' This season was possibly the weakest line-up we have had in years ....and we all sit back and ask ourselves why? Well it would seem there are numerous reasons for this:
  • Fashion Week organisers are bound by sponsors to include young designers
  • Be overtly politically correct. Lord forbid they (orgainsers/selection committes/fashion councils or any other wannabe owners of fashion) should not be seen to be supporting crafters or unknown brands fresh out of fashion school
Off course most of you would know that I have already been attacked for being 'arrogant' and misquoted as not being supportive of young designers. Quite the opposite I would say as I am all for supporting young designers and giving them a break but I am also all for making sure that they are well equipped to sustain the hype of showing at a fashion week and they have a life after fashion week. Its not easy producing a collection...........its harder to make sure that you have all the elements to make for a commercially viable collection and beyond your wildest dreams to expect that your first collection will be a sell out and that it will cover the costs of manufacturing your garments for the show. I wonder how many of those designers will be mentored and assisted in transforming their creativity into businesses that are successful and sustainable.......

Who will be there when things unravel? The sponsors that sponsor a fashion week? The organisers? No one wants any fledgling business to fail but what are the chances that these young brands will survive without the continuous support. Are we allowing designers to show under the banner of development in the industry? What are the criteria for designers showing on a fashion week?

Just in case anyone feels that I have no idea of what its like to first enter the industry let me remind you that I burnt my fingers a million times over and slogged for seven years before I was able to create a sustainable business. I was crazy enough to believe those many years ago that creative talent was the only thing that was needed and doing fashion shows were the ultimate solution in establishing my brand.......how wrong I was.

The purpose of a fashion week is to grow an industry and create new markets for designers. If designers are allowed to show collections with badly manufactured garments then what precedent are we setting? Are we saying that its ok...........what does it do for the overall image of the industry? Badly set in sleeves, hideous fabrication and down right bad quality is unacceptable. It's time that we stopped feeling sorry and set standards in this industry. What of the poor designers who actually are being used as vehicles to access funding for these events? What of designers that are being funded to produce collections (and bad one's at that!) for these events? What about other suitably qualified and experienced designers......... Let's not go down that road of trying to teach a man to fish.......................

For those wanting to read more on this debate/discussion read Jacquie Myburgh's opinion piece.


TS said...

Hi. No alias for me thanks. :-)
This is a really hot topic right now.there is a need for young talent but there seems to be a serious disconnect between the talent i know is there and the products on our runways.
But Gavin is the problem not with perhaps the inferior training in colleges cos theoretically when one leaves college you should be able to produce quality garments and be able to conceive a collection from start to finish and be moderately capable of making fabric choices

TS said...

Business acumen. . .well none of us have MBAs but most of it is common sense. Learn how to do it. . .get paid for it. . .learn how to do it better (so that its worth paying for). . .try find more ppl who want it. . .and NEVER give it out for free. . .make sure they come back for more. . .learn from others who have been doing it longer than you. . .find new ways of keeping it fresh.even the boys that loiter around sea point can tell you that.
What i have learnt in my short career thus far is that "the point of a business is NOT TO LOSE MONEY. . .ever" and "that all young designers need to find unique ways so remain profitable and visable.designing is NOT an easy or glam job. . .you got to put in the hours on perfecting your product and/or service

random commentator said...

For goodness sakes!!

What Gavin is saying is the ultimate truth and unfortunately it has been the TRUTH for the longest time!!!

First off, I'm through with applauding mediocre products. I'm through applauding mediocrity in fashion and elsewhere. Some (arguably most) of the items shown were BAAAD, it was BAAAAD mediocrity! I don't understand just how a group of people could provide a consenseus to showcase that stuff whilst sober...Cmon!!

However, I believe that there should be some governing body that ensures that sufficient and efficient financial and logistical support is provided to these emerging brands. When they begin pitching their "work" they should also have adequate knowledge of just how BUSINESS the fashion business is!

Some of these "newbies" come and go because they just weren't prepared and got a reality check when the "glits and glamour" aspects of showcasing was over.

Who should help? Everybody!!! For goodness sakes, we should start supporting OUR OWN, SA! I'm tired of seeing GUCCI labels at a local fashion show-it doesn't make sense for someone to be that disrespectful!! Corporate bodies and funding facilities should also start putting their money where their mouths are. The fashion industry is also a contributing industry in alleviating unemployment and GDP activity. It should receive the respect it deserves. We want entrepreneurs and "SMME's" yet, we always scoff and mock them when their from "creative" industries... GROW UP!!

You'll find that some of the "leaders" in corporate would come with their over stitched and botoxed wives and pose for photographs acting all pomp and famous/important, knowing very well that they rejected and continue to reject the funding applicants. The same applicants who had to use BAD textiles on the show!

The organisers, as well, should really make a plan! Really now, the shows themselves have become the height of pretention. The least they could do is ensure that quality is produced and maintained throughout the show...even after the show. It would be nice to see a "new" designer become a staple for once. A staple of the industry and of quality items and service when you want to buy from their boutiques!

To be honest, I generally don't care how "famous" or "acclaimed" not even how "creative" you are within the industry. If I don't receive QUALITY (products and services- even showcases), I will always remember that!

It's a pity that post-this and post-that, we still can't maintain our own brands and still won't efficiently support SA products (things and people).

Wake up guys!!!!

Those who were offended-GOOD!
Those who weren't-GOOD!!

Next year, or later this one, I will start naming names and making it messy! We need to do this for ourselves!!!!

All I want is for people to think about this for 30 secs...

Ladybrille said...

I do agree wholeheartedly that badly mnanufactured garments have no place on the runway much less on the backs of the patrons it seeks to support. I, however, point out that youbng/emerging designers are NOT the only ones. Speaking from the USA angle, I find that so called establsihed designers sometimes are seen with these issues. In fact, my experience has been that creativity and precise execution are more prevalent with young fashion students.

Take the Academy of Art University for example which is the only scholl that shows at Fashion Week, the grad students work simply surpass that of so called established designers. Id on't feel it's a PC thing. I feel very strongly that our industry MUST have a place for young talents and that place includes at the runway shows.

If we say after the show, then what? Then it becomes incumbent upon the leaders of the industry to mentor and train that young designer as well as that young designer to get with that mentor to learn business skills not just be all about the creative process.

My understanding readings of SA's industry is that young designers are not the only ones lacking business skills. A lot of established designers sshare this problem of lack of understanding of business of fashion. In teh States, most fashion schools including the one I am enrolled in offer fashion business courses. I would think SA would teh same. The point is, our young designers are the future and we must provide the platform and training to get them up to par to show alongsie established designers. Needless to say, this does not mean everyone young designer gets to show.

styleguide said...

I am pretty confident that you are referring to my blog somewhere in your statement, "PC blogs [that] deteriorate to a dreary expose of Long St in Cape Town, exalting badly designed (or made) product or even worse a saccharine coated showcase of the mundane and mediocre." See how I respond to this characterisation on http://styleguidecapetown.blogspot.com ... :)SG x

Gavin Rajah said...

Actually Robyn sorry to disappoint you on that score love but it was not your blog...........xxx