Mayor of Ethekwini Municipality: Cllr Zandile Gumede

EThekwini is a City full of potential and brimming with creativity. This is evident by the extraordinary offerings from local designers that have been showcased on various platforms by the City.

A strategic decision was made to position eThekwini as a global investment partner of choice. Three years ago eThekwini Municipality launched a comprehensive Economic Development and Visitor Strategy, of which the primary objective was to position Durban globally and attract investment to the City. To ensure that our goal became a reality, it was necessary to find innovative ways to drive the competitiveness of our City on a global scale.

We are living in an era characterised by urbanisation and globalisation. While this is not necessarily a bad thing as it is translates into a greater domestic market and stimulating investment in knowledge, it does, however, present challenges. As such, this has prompted the City to change the way we do business and identify sectors that will facilitate economic growth and job creation.

While observing growth and demand in various sectors globally, the fashion industry is increasingly becoming a key sector that is promoting economic growth and creating employment opportunities. With technology advancement, the fashion sector has transformed into a whole new era.

As a City, we saw potential and opportunities in this sector which led us to establish the Fashion Development Programme. Our primary aim is to use the sector to respond to the economic crisis and create a platform to expose emerging fashion entrepreneurs to the industry. We are proud to say that this initiative was not a fruitless exercise and has yielded many positive results.

Through the Durban Fashion Fair, the programme has made tremendous progress in unlocking talents and creating employment opportunities for local designers and aspiring models.

This years’ theme “Dawn of the Arts” places emphasis on creativity and innovation as a mechanism to generate a productive stability in the future of the fashion sector. It is inspiring that to date the Fair has attracted diverse fashion experts to assist our designers to become globally competitive. The level of expertise they bring is inevitably driving transformation in the sector and responding to skills challenges and the fast-tracking of economic growth.

In countries like the United State of America, the fashion sector has transformed rapidly resulting in a huge impact on economic growth and job creation. With changes in technology, the fashion sector is now characterised by clusters of activity, thus creativity has become a huge demand to make the sector successful and competent.

In an effort to instil creativity and growth, we have roped in prominent retail sectors and promoted knowledge-sharing across businesses which in turn fosters innovation and enhances productivity. This is to ensure that relevant skills are provided for our designers to keep up with emerging trends.

We acknowledge that today’s fashion sector has transformed compared to the industry decades ago and demand for skills in the sector is growing. As a City, we will continue to foster an innovative collaborative approach to ensure that relevant skills are provided to sustain growth of the sector.