14-09-2011 – Eastern Cape born designer took the top honours at the 17th annual Vukani Fashion Awards co-sponsored by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and...


Eastern Cape born designer took the top honours at the 17th annual Vukani Fashion Awards co-sponsored by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and held in East London’s Hemingways Mall recently.

Tozama Dyantyi’s bold statement made the cut with the judges, who describe her designs as “fearless and controversial” in depicting South Africa’s socio-political and colonial history. Dyantyi’s interpretation of South Africa’s complex politics won her the Best Collection Prize worth a total of R73 000.

The prize includes a fully paid up six week International Fashion and Business Internship in Brazil, meals and accommodation, a media sponsorship with a business starter-up pack worth R20 000.00 and an Xstrata start-up tool kit worth R20 000.

“The Vukani Fashion Awards are a significant icon of visual identity to a South African. They are a beacon of change, a spirit of inclusion and community building, after Madiba’s own heart.

They inspire, develop, and teach the youth beyond colour, history and religion and culture. Being a winner means that the possibility of beating poverty is visible, especially within the communities of the Eastern Cape,” says Dyantyi who hails from the small town of Cala.

The fashion exhibition drew young design talent from around the country to East London starting on the 23rd of August over four days, culminating in the 17th annual Vukani Fashion Awards which were held in the Eastern Cape for the first time.

The Vukani Fashion Awards are driven by Sonwabile Ndamase, a fashion designer based in Johannesburg who hails from the Eastern Cape and is well known for designing “Madiba shirts”, which became synonymous with elder statesman Nelson Mandela’s image.

Ndamase says the awards were born out of empathy and personal experience with the challenges young designers face in formative years of their business

.“The use of neutral creams and shades of brown and the choice of linen and cotton is a purposeful reflection of the unvarnished and raw stories tells about our reality. Her tone is critical but also expresses an offbeat sense of humour,” says Ndamase who is chief executive of the Vukani Fashion Awards.

The Vukani Fashion Awards have gained acclaim in fashion circles and are viewed as a prominent feature of the fashion industry calendar.

ECDC chief executive Sitembele Mase says fashion is a labour intensive sector and the creative industry in general has been recognised as possessing potential to create jobs on a large scale and is part of the Industrial Action Policy Plan (I-PAP 2).

Mase adds that spporting the Vukani Fashion Awards are part of a creative industry support programme initiated by ECDC.

“Over the years, ECDC has been part of promoting the creative sector through various exhibitions and other market access programmes. Our involvement in the creative sector has shown us that indeed, the Eastern Cape is endowed with untapped human capital and talent,” says Mase.

He adds that ECDC’s support to the entrepreneurs involved in fashion will aim for broader participation of Eastern Cape designers, by getting more of them entering the competition and getting exposure.

“Beyond this event, we will continue to intervene. Our intention is to continue working with businesses in design space, assist and support them to improve competitiveness as well as facilitate market access.”

Other event sponsors include South African Fashion Design Agency (SAFDA), BERNINA, Hemingways Mall, Eastern Cape Arts and Culture, who lent their financial support to the project.

“The money we raise each year goes to the development of local fashion designers, while this year’s goal is aimed at developing 21 emerging local fashion entrepreneurs within the region of the Eastern Cape, using the Winnie Mandela Signature Collection for branding their products,” says Ndamase.

Carmen Freeman emerged the winner of the Most Innovative Designs worth R 29 000.00 with the High Fashion Award worth R 33 500.00 going to Jaynie Potgieter

News editor