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Lockdown blog: Fashion insiders share their stories

by | Mar 27, 2020

For 21 days, we’re keeping a running blog with advice and comments from our community. What support can you offer? What are your hopes? What are your fears? Join the conversation. Send comments to [email protected]

Katherine-Mary Pichulik, founder and creative director of Pichulik

Katherine-Mary offers advice for small business owners who are faced with the Covid-19 challenges. She created her internationally-recognised jewellery brand in 2013, which is now run by a strong women and one man team.

Voices of creatives from around the world

Thanks to Connected Sahara in Zimbabwe for putting together this video to map out solutions for the creative sector. Produced in partnership with Connected Sahara and the Feed ZW.

 

Zola Booi, founder of The Fashion Entrepreneurship Training Programme

I am on the verge of loosing everything I have worked hard to create. The Fashion Entrepreneurship Training Programme was founded in association with NYDA and Damelin College and trains candidates for free. I do extra classes on weekends and freelance jobs to finance the programme and since the lockdown this has been difficult. Currently I don’t have means to finance the expenses of the programme especially rental as it is the major expense. We had opted to rent a bigger space to accommodate our growth plans in association with Khayelitsha Fashion Week but I don’t know where I will be able to raise this rental.

Ashley Heather, sustainable jewellery designer

We salute our President for his strong and decisive leadership in this crisis. We are thinking of all our fellow South Africans during the lockdown. At this time we are focusing on our families, supporting our communities in any way we can safely do so and keeping the parts of the business that can operate remotely running as smoothly as possible. We cannot know what the future will bring or what waits for all of us on the other side of this lockdown but we are upbeat that as a strong and unified team we will tackle whatever comes our way. I plan to use some of this time to design a new range so that’s something to look forward to on the other side of this crisis.

⁠Our online store will be up and running as usual, but all orders placed now will be manufactured once the lockdown has been lifted. I’ll still very much be on the other end of my email and on social media to answer any questions people may have.

Laura Ferreira, founder and creative director of House of Lucent

Rudo Nondo, country-co-ordinator Fashion Revolution Zimbabwe

With this whirlwind of events I think about the seamstresses and tailors with whom I regularly work.  I wonder how they will survive as they depend on us to give them work to do. While they make and mend our clothes, they provide us with the space to sit and to talk.  I wonder what will happen to the people who go door-to-door selling bits and pieces we use in our garment production such as buttons and zips. They all stop in for a brief conversation and a laugh as they go about their business. As the space to gossip, vent and laugh and share community stories has been closed down we must remember to take a moment to check up on the people who make our clothes. Now is our time to provide them with a listening ear and a helping hand. Let’s stand with our makers. 

Adrian Lazarus, founder Bokeh Fashion Film Festival

Will things ever things “go back to normal” after the lock down? Do we actually want to go back to that original state or do we want a different future after this? A more caring, human one? Was this last reality just a chapter taking us down a dead end road? I think that whatever comes our way, we shall all hold onto the small everyday miracles and love them a little more intensely as we take care of each other and this planet with a bit more care. 

Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution

It is so difficult to offer generic support at a time when we are all facing such different difficulties in our lives, and yet we need to survive this and move on. People all over the world are unmasking their generosity and care, and it’s just as important to benefit from it as it is to give back. Seek help if you need it, there are people there to support you, and help others if you can, because you are needed. And hopefully, from this we will learn, that we are fragile, that we made mistakes, that our systems aren’t the best systems. I hope for empathy, and respect, and a future that evolves to be better than its past.

Dr Erica de Greef, academic and decolonial fashion thinker

During this strange and silenced period (of shutting shop, slowing down and self-isolation), take the opportunity, or make the opportunity rather, to WRITE ABOUT YOUR WORK. Whether you reach out to friends in media, colleagues on shared platforms, or you do it yourself, Tell Your Story. It could be about how you started. It could be thoughts about your next project. It could be what inspires you. It could be your favourite-ever project or design. It could just be about what you are experiencing right now. Once it has been written, it can be shared. Once it is shared, we all get to know one another just a little better. 

Paula Thomson, executive manager Woza Moya

I have not slept thinking of the ramifications of this pandemic on our Woza family, we support over 1500 crafters and each of those has 7 – 10 dependants, the loss of income on these family’s is immense. More than ever before we need those that have to make sacrifices for those who do not. We are trying to lobby for support to sustain us, so that we can retain our staff and send a lifeline out to crafters in the form of food parcels. Woza Moya works with the most vulnerable populations as many crafters have compromised immunity and need food to take their medication and retain health. We are very concerned at the risks this virus poses for our crafters.  

Portia Makoma, founder of MAU Mask 

The current outbreak has had an impact on our supply chain and ability to ship to customers. Like many businesses globally we are brainstorming creative ways to get through these hurdles because the need to protect yourself from pollution will always be key for travellers. 

Tracey Chapman, The Clothing Bank

This could have a devastating effect on the retail sector. The retail sector depends on sales and has very high fixed costs such as rent and salaries. Without the sales coming in, the sector can quickly run out of cash which will result in thousands of job losses. We have already seen that Edcon has announced it will lose R400m in sales in March and R800m in April and will not have enough cash to pay suppliers. This means there is a ripple effect as suppliers will likely go out of business and can’t pay salaries and it is the poor who will suffer,  as the factory employee might have been the only bread winner and the family is unlikely to have savings. Thousands of livelihoods are at stake. We have a health crisis and an economic crisis and there are no easy choices at this time.

I think there could however be deeper shift that make take place in the human pysche. As people are isolated to their homes they will have time to contemplate what is really important in life and may conclude that all the material things that we have coveted for so long aren’t important anymore. How this will impact the fashion industry only time will tell.

Herizo Robin, country co-ordinator of Fashion Revolution Madagascar and founder of ZOUZOUDAGO

There is a need to completely rethink the way we treat the planet. Let us take advantage of this time to inspect our closets, sort them out, and rediscover true love for our clothes, cherish our clothes, re-appropriate their importance and their true value. #MakeItLast. Take the time to hand make, try new customisation techniques, upcycle, discover new passions. Let’s read, learn, be curious! Do we question what our clothes are made of? #WhatsInMyClothes Let’s be selfless, let’s think about the populations, the minorities, the most vulnerable countries that lack resources. Finally, we cannot stress enough that we must support independent designers and small structures that are very vulnerable at the moment. This time is hard. This catastrophe affects us all in disproportionate ways. Let us be lucid, because it is the moment for full consciousness.

Lucilla Booyzen, founder and director SA Fashion Week

During this period we want small local designers to go back to basics. They must their incredible talent to come up with solutions that can get them through this and into the next stage. We are encouraging designers to make masks. SAFW sent a pattern to 600 designers in South Africa. We did a costing for them and recommended a price.  There will be a shift in the fashion industry but I cannot predict what and how it will play out. Only time will tell.

Gosia Young, Marketing Manager, Rowdy Bags

Sustainable Mitchelle

I am trying to stay sane.  The obvious way that the pandemic has affected me and my business is that I am becoming less and less reliant on face-to-face interactions (social distances and self isolation) and turning to social media as a means to not only advertise and connect but also raise awareness about the products I make (which include reusable cloth pads and washable diapers).

Cyril Naicker, country co-ordinator of Fashion Revolution South Africa

The 21 day lockdown gives us the time to edit our wardrobe. Go through items that you do not wear and ones you have not worn because they need TLC. Put the items that you will not wear aside to donate to a charity. If you are able to sew a button on yourself, start mending. If you cannot sew but are up for the challenge, watch YouTube tutorials and learn a new skill! If this is too daunting for you, I would then suggest a second pile of clothing to be set aside – need to be fixed! This way once the lockdown is over , take these items to a tailor or seamstress and get them fixed. You will support small business and will be able to wear the garments that you have not worn in ages! If you really must buy something, please consider supporting local designers and shop online. 

 

Image: Jéanelle van der Merwe follow her on Instagram here

 

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