Tuesday 28th of September 2021

Nairobi, Kenya

SA Fashion Week shows Will go on Despite CoronaVirus

Posted On : March 20, 2020

Oscar Alochi


Models walk the ramp in an empty auditorium as AFI Fashion Week moved its last day of runway shows online in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. South Africa Fashion Week has also announced that it will take its Spring/Summer 2020 runway shows online.

Africa Fashion International ( AFI ) Fashion Week to continue without guests due to coronavirus outbreak

Following hot on the heels of Africa Fashion International (AFI), South African Fashion Week South Africa Fashion Week ( SAFW ) has announced that it’ll be taking its Spring/Summer 2020 runway shows online in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Change, change, change. The thing we embrace and fear with equal measure. In light of our President announcing a national state of disaster in South Africa on Sunday night to curtail the spread of COVID-19, SA Fashion Week is committed to supporting and adhering to his directives which includes the prohibiting of mass events/gatherings of 100+ people. Hence, we are swiftly moving to our Plan B for the upcoming Spring/Summer 2020 showcase: a climate-friendly, green-friendly, COVID-19 respectful, digital-only SA Fashion Week. It is bold, it is smart and it is a first. We had been wanting to push change and the agenda. This was the push we needed. COVID-19 has paved the way for something rather beautiful and unique to happen. Our designer’s stories will be told in a refreshing and relevant way. And our sponsors and other stakeholders will be part of a bigger, global audience. This is our 23rd SA Fashion Week. We believe it will be our most important. The SA Fashion Week was initiated in 1997 – it is the continent’s only business-to-business marketing platform for fashion, footwear, accessories and jewelry where designers may biannually launch their seasonal collections to the media, buyers and their clients. It is with deep gratitude that we thank our sponsors for sharing our vision and understanding the tacit power of fashion. Thank you for giving us the financial and other resources to continue to discover, nurture and develop the South African creative fashion industry. In the same way that it is said that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a family of like-minded partners to grow industry. We thank you and salute you. Lucilla Booyzen, CEO South African Fashion Week

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On March 14, AFI cancelled the third and final day of live presentations at Fashion Week Cape Town. Ticket holders were refunded and the scheduled runway shows went ahead without an audience. Instead they were streamed via social media.

That’s partially because Booyzen was concerned that fashion weeks were becoming less about the designers’ collections and more about who was in attendance at the shows.

“Rather than spending lots of money and having big venues, we were looking at new ways of showing collections.”

She’d also been keeping a close eye on developments around the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Since January we’ve been developing a plan B. With the backing of our sponsors, Sandton City, Cruz and Carlton Hair, we are going to shoot the collections in isolation because the designers have already started designing their sample collections.”

Along with having no audiences, Booyzen confirmed that South Africa Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 2020 runway shows would involve less models, make-up artists and production people than past years in light of the current pandemic. Health specialists will also be consulted to ensure that a safe working environment is created.

The wasteful nature of fashion weeks has been called into question around the globe by environmental groups such as Extinction Rebellion. Beyond being “Covid-19 respectful”, a recent South Africa Fashion Week statement boasts that the upcoming runway shows will be “climate-friendly”.

“It is important for designers to reinvent themselves and think about how they do not have to spend so much money, how to use more natural fabrics and how to be sustainable,” said Booyzen.​

Presenting this season’s collections digitally has also made some designers rethink the relevance of Fashion Week entirely.

Neo Serati Mofammere, the young mastermind behind Joburg-based label Nao Serati, explained that while past generations of designers relied heavily on such events to promote their brands, newcomers to the industry have found “a whole lot of different ways” to do so.

“Right now Instagram is the strongest way to market [yourself] and some people are using influencers. It doesn’t work for everybody but some designers would rather have an influencer wear their garments and some use good old word of mouth.”

South Africa Fashion Week is set to take place in late April.


Oscar Alochi


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