Young emerging fashion designers are getting help to launch their careers in the South African province of the KwaZulu-Natal where the KZN Fashion Council has launched a project to grow the fashion industry.

The project will showcase young designers’ clothing ranges and ensure they end up in retail stores but it is more than just taking designs from the ramp to a store as it also involves training in pattern-making and sewing and with a focus on marketing and business principles.

Rachel Molefe, an emerging designer says: “My passion for fashion is a long-time love affair. I remember starting making clothes when I was a child for my dolls. I think my dolls were the best dressed dolls in my neighbourhood, I mean that’s how far back.”

Molefe is one of six designers on the Fashion Council’s 21 Steps to Retail programme. She has included traditional Zulu craft made by rural women into her accessory designs.

“I’m focusing on KZN indigenous craft and I’m trying to revive it and renew it into a more commercially viable product and more globally competitive product but at the same time because fashion dictates what I put out, so my collaboration with the ladies will be to revise our colours, instead of many different colours in one piece to try to limit it to two for example,” says Molefe.

Another young designer who is profiting from the project is Musawenkosi Sebeko. He says the project has helped him turn his creations into everyday wear.

The programme will ultimately benefit the economy. Palesa Kwitshana, the chief executive officer of KZN Fashion Council, says; “With all the unemployment and economic downturn we need to charge this and if we can all understand that behind every line there are women sitting at swim machines, there are people taruing tere are poeple selling and its an economic driver.”

The young designers are proof that there’s enough talent for local brands to compete on the international stage.