What is the “Business of Fashion”? These 21 young designer hopefuls hope to learn the answer to this question at the 7th installment of the Durban Fashion Fair (DFF) Mentorship Programme, which is a proudly eThekwini Municipality initiative developed to grow the fashion industry in the city, as well as create a platform for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Hundreds of young designers put their names forward in December 2017 and 21 were chosen to take part in the programme, which includes working closely with some of the city’s top fashion gurus as well as their fellow designers.

The mentees are all currently working in the fashion industry and were selected based on three pillars – creativity (which was judged on story boards), garment construction as well as business acumen (a traceable client base, business plan and business skills).

Most of these interns will also see their work on the ramp at the Durban Fashion Fair later this year in September, with a number of them showcasing for the first time to the city’s fashionistas, including buyers, suppliers, industry leaders and media all under one roof.

According to Sindi Shangase, the Programme Manager for the Business Support Tourism and Markets Unit who has driven the DFF since inception in 2011, the mentorship programme is intended to train enterprising young designers in all aspects of the fashion business and prepare them and their collections for the DFF.

Programme mentor, the founder of G & D Apparel’s, Greg Wallis will not only guide these mentees on orientation and textile selection, but will provide valuable information on manufacturing, brand management, costing and entering the world of retail. Throughout the programme, guest mentors within the various fashion related fields are invited to present to the class.

Furthermore, guest lecturers from the industry will be invited to take turns in assisting in the development of these mentees.

As part of the programme, the current mentees are provided different design briefs and assignments each week where they work in teams, nominate a team leader and critique each other’s work. They are also taught to build collections from start to finish.

Additional modules will also show these aspiring designers how to run their own successful businesses.

When the programme concludes, one of these intern designers will receive a recognition award during the Durban Fashion Fair Awards on Saturday, September 22nd at the Inkosi Chief Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

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