South African Fashion Week is teaming up with Sunglass Hut for this year’s New Talent search. New Talent is a 17-year-old property of SA Fashion Week that founder Lucilla Booyzen, pictured below with Sunglass Hut South Africa CEO Mike Elliott, highlighted as the launchpad for the careers of some of the country’s most acclaimed designers including David Tlale, Maya Prass, Jacques van der Watt (Black Coffee) and Anisa Mpungwe.
Several talent search platforms exist in South Africa and every year, they churn out a lot of emerging designers, many of who tend to fall by the wayside. There are many reasons why this happens, I think. The lack of support, lack of funds, etc., but for some, it must be said that a lack of business savvy is a major factor.
SAFW’s New Talent now requires entrants to submit their business plans, and stocking stores is a requirement. While one may ask how an emerging designer is expected to be this established already, I would argue that, as strict as the rules are, it is probably the only way to avoid what Booysen called the creation of “big egoes”. At least this way a designer’s seriousness about business is immediately evident. While not ideal because it cuts out a lot of talent, I guess it’s one way of ensuring that the prizes- worth R 85,000 this year- don’t end up in the hands of folk who aren’t prepared to weather the storms of an industry that can be so brutal that giving up often seems more appealing.
As Lucilla herself put it: “We would like to find someone that can lead the fashion pack, not follow it. It is time to show us, not only a new point of view, but also a very individual point of view. As with last year’s competition, we are looking for a very strong but also unique handwriting. While we like ‘bold’, we aren’t simply looking for theatre, but a contemporary wardrobe that appeals to a modern woman’s lifestyle.”
We applaud Sunglass Hut for supporting this very important platform and we can’t wait to see what this year’s finalists will put out. The competition is not prescribing a brief but asking designers to show their ‘individualism’. This is bound to produce interesting results as it will allow designers to go ape shit! I mean that in a good way.
Entries close 17 and 24 July, respectively.