2019 DFF Foreword: Thulani Nzama – Head of Business Support, Tourism and Markets Unit
Whether you’re wearing gold silk thread garments or your home has chrome-plated finishes, metals are intrinsically linked to our everyday lives in South Africa. They are a fundamental part of industry and technology and can be both an expression of both pragmatism and glamour.
In South Africa, mining, and especially gold and platinum mining, is intricately linked to the history and economy of the country. From the early gold rush of the 1800s to the sophisticated mining operations of today, precious metals have been central to the cultural development of South Africa and have impacted on everything from literature and music to interior design and fashion.
This year’s theme – Evolution is Elementary – highlights the influence of essential elements such as metals and even diamonds as well as they fact that this has not only spread from the mining towns of the hinterland to the East Coast where we find ourselves but also to the fashion and jewellery design capitals of the world.
In the world of fashion, gold and silver are not just metals but also colours that have made a massive impact on fashion runways for decades. We can credit them with adding much of the glitz and glamour that forms an intrinsic part of the world of fashion as we know it today.
We are certainly interested to see how this year’s designers will interpret this theme.
We are proud to welcome designers from across the continent to our beautiful port city whilst also celebrating our local designers. The contributions of both established designers and key players in the local industry as well as the vision and energy of the new talents for whom we are able to provide an important platform have been central to the exciting evolution of the DFF over the past nine years.
Also part of this special event’s growth has been the addition of new elements each year. This year, we have broadened our vision and that of our designers by embracing fuller figure models.
When the DFF started out in 2012 as part of the Durban Business Fair (DBF), it had just six shows and 12 designers. This attempt to re-ignite the city’s clothing industry that had succumbed to pressure from much cheaper imports met with a great deal of scepticism.
The evolution of the DFF into what it is today – an eagerly anticipated annual event over four days featuring more than 54 designers – is testament to the vision of the eThekwini Municipality and its Business Support, Tourism and Markets Unit. This vision has become a reality.
Both this year’s theme and the continued focus on the economic impact of fashion is a perfect fit with the Durban Business Fair. Again, the two events will take place side by side and the DBF’s theme ‘Journey of Innovation’ will resonate with those participating in both.
Innovation is indeed at the heart of the DFF as well as central to the individual journeys of top designers who started out as mentees and are now major influencers within the world of African fashion.
The one thing that our ‘Evolution is Elementary’ theme does not imply is that putting together a four-day long event such as the DFF is easy. It is anything but. Because of this, we pay homage not only to the designers whose creativity and hard work adds plenty of glitz to the runway but also to the many people working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that this event goes from strength to strength every year.
So, welcome to all the members of the public who have joined us at the DFF together with retailers, buyers and the media who support locally designed and manufactured fashion. We look forward to sharing DFF 2019 with you.