A fashion business masterclass for Harare’s emerging designers and independent fashion houses was held to great acclaim on Wednesday.
Thirty participants engaged with a range of speakers, primarily on the nitty gritty aspects of how to formalise their creative businesses, transforming their talent into viable fashion enterprises.
Topics covered included, formalizing businesses, marketing, tax compliance, distribution channels, and how to meet the needs of various export markets among others.
The masterclass organiser and founder of clothing manufacturing company, Cocoseed Culture, Constance Karoro, emphasised the need for the smaller fashion houses to band together to create momentum for the Zimbabwean fashion industry.
“The local fashion industry has been impacted by a lot of problems such as cotton production and access to forex. It is nowhere near where it could be. The masterclasses are a way of overcoming some of these obstacles as creatives are trained and have access to information that they otherwise might not have. As Cocoseed Culture we are also encouraging collaboration and networking because as individuals, it is so difficult to penetrate the market, but when we are working together we can leverage of our numbers to make a meaningful impact.”
Participant, Cara Besomo, whose fashion label ‘Nyaya’ has not yet been formalised, said that this first masterclass had already helped her overcome her fears around doing serious business.
“It was fabulous. We got a snapshot of all the things needed to be a fashion designer beyond sitting at a desk and drawing. I knew about this stuff, but it scared me, so I pushed it to the back of my mind. But now I feel empowered and excited to take Nyaya to the next level,” she said.
ZimTrade, the national trade development and promotion organisation, hosted the event. Speaking to participants, ZimTrade Acting CEO Allan Majuru, expressed hope that by banding together the designers could eventually reach foreign markets.
“Quality, reliability, and consistency of supply are key. If you work together and tackle these foreign markets as one, your chances of succeeding are greatly improved,” he said.
During his presentation Mr Majuru highlighted that 2016 data from Trade Map revealed a global clothing import bill of US$196 billion and expressed hope that Zimbabwe can grow its share of this.
“Remember to create your designs based on the fashion needs of target markets. If we are strategic in this we can look forward to a day when Zimbabwean-designed clothing is being sold in retail outlets across the world,” said Mr Majuru.