Fashion Week Brooklyn Welcomes SA Designers

Two South African Fashion Designers recently showcased their skills in New York at the 8th edition of the Fashion Week Brooklyn. This participation was made possible by the “Yebo Msanzi” – an exchange program between MyArts International, a South African-based MICE Company, and the Brooklyn Style Foundation, organizers of the show.

Ambassador for Brooklyn Fashion Week, NYC, 2014

The exchange program aims at creating powerful marketing, branding and sales activities for men and women who love fashion, visual and performing arts to interact with other international artists /designers/models.  These activities are with full recognition of the Millennium Development Goal #8, which is Global Partnerships for Development established under the United Nations 2015 Program.

Last week, The Fashion Week Brooklyn was officially endorsed by the Brooklyn borough President Mr. Eric Adams. The event was attended by the South African Political Consul in New York Mr. Gugulethu Gingqi who addressed the media and dignitaries on the diversity of SA creative industry and opportunities of partnership.

According to Mike Johnson, Director of International Relations at the BK Style Foundation, The Fashion Week Brooklyn collection themed “Be Bold, Be Strong” holds significant importance for the beginning of this partnership with South Africa.

“We have started with Fashion but very soon we will include the visual arts and film industry into this partnership. There is a lot of excitement in working with the South African creative industry” said Johnson.

The Fashion Week Brooklyn is  produced by the BK Style Foundation, beginning March 13 and running until March 16 this year at Industry City (located at 241 37th Street in Sunset Park). It’s aim annually is to showcase the collections of designers based in the USA, South Africa, Grenada and Finland. South African designers showcased on Sunday 16 March 2014. Fashion Week Brooklyn is the borough’s longest-running collection show, providing a platform for emerging and established designers based in Brooklyn and around the world. FWB features men’s, women’s, children’s, eco-friendly, accessory, RTW, pet couture, bridal and couture collections.

According to Mr. Denis Ackulay, Chief Director of MyArts international,  “there are many talented artists and designers from the Previously Disadvantaged Areas who would love to be elevated using platforms such as the Fashion Week Brooklyn. Many of them have shown strong interested and we have even waived participation fees for them.”

“Together with our stakeholders, we are looking into this matter so that artists, filmmakers, actors, models and designers representing South Africa and Africa at the next Fashion Week Brooklyn in October this year and other Yebo Msanzi events are a true reflection of the SA rainbow society. Luckily, we still have another FWB scheduled in October where we can have a much inclusive representation of SA with local designers and models from our townships.” Added Ackulay.

The South African designers will offer the Brooklyn community and the world a glimpse of the cultural scene in South Africa, which is as rich as it is varied.

As part of the exchange programme, The Brooklyn Style Foundation will include their “Stitch for Success” project which is one of the Brooklyn style missions; to support people in low income communities internationally, by gathering sewing machines, fabric and other sewing items.

All the items will be allocated to the development of the fashion industry in South Africa.

The Brooklyn Style Foundation will conduct several workshops on fashion, modelling and arts development during the Art Meets Fashion Movement  in Johannesburg taking place on the 2nd and 3rd of  May this year.

About the South African Designers:

Nicole  Khoury

After having studied business and marketing at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, Nicole Khoury felt a need to broaden her outlook on business and focus on her passion.

She went on to study fashion design and completed her degree in 2010.

After having worked in the fashion industry, she decided to step out on her own – Ikhonic was formed – a brand FOCUSING on the classic woman, the confident woman and the woman who wants to look and feel her best for any occasion.

Creating classic silhouettes and spicing her designs up with colour, stylised lines and changing simple designs into intricate, bold designs, she hopes to create a new, fun and flirty outlook on fashion for the feminine woman.

“Ikhonic was born from the need to inject spirit and energy into fashion and after many ups and downs, laughs and tears it’s been a journey I wouldn’t exchange for anything – today, I am a South African designer whose life has been designed from the time I was a little girl and I am excited for what my future holds”.

Richard Fitz

A young designer (22 years old) who has recently finished my BA fashion degree at LISOF in South Africa. In 2011, he entered the 1st year garment into the Crystal Awards where he was placed 2nd in the Avant Garde category. His collection was the runner up in his 3rd year fashion show at LISOF last year and he was called onto the stage for congratulations and recognition of his collection and work. his 3rd year collection process was published in the ‘Student Brands’ magazine (volume 3/Edition 11, where other designers including one of the top SA designer, Spero Villioti, had an article. He has recently been contacted by Dossier magazine, which is a quarterly magazine, and they have asked to shoot his 3rd year collection for their next issue. LISOF themselves have also recalled his collection to shoot for their new webpage which will soon be online.

He is currently working on setting up my own design business, where he is working with a non-profit organization (Faith Foundation Ventures). His textile production, which works with natural materials and hand based methods, give opportunity to the under privileged to earn money, learn these techniques and work in a safe environment.

I have always played and still play sports and especially soccer where I compete in leagues and find competition very inspiring and motivating. I am very determined in what I set my mind to and will stop at nothing to achieve the goals I have set for myself.

The storyboards I have made indicate a process of hand felting that I have learnt from Peta-Lee. In this process raw wool is worked by hand till it mattes together and creates felt. I plan to construct and mold my garments on a mannequin and in this process will eliminate most seams, giving the garment a unique look and feel. This is an eco- friendly method that I have wanted to use for a long time and I believe that this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Gugu Ginqi
Consul Gugulethu Gingqi addressing the audience ( Back-left : Rick Davy – Producer of Fashion Week Brooklyn , Back- Right : Eric Adams – Brooklyn Borough President)

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