Fashion council condemns R1,9m city expenditure

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Cape Town Fashion Council has criticised city mayor Patricia de Lille’s R500,000 splurge on Cape Town fashion week’s opening dinner, instead of spending that cash on “deliverables”.

The council’s chief executive Bryan Ramkilawan yesterday said De Lille should have spent that money on developing local fashion designers.

De Lille spent R500,000 on a “mayoral dinner” at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last Wednesday.

Guests at this event included Precious Motsepe-Moloi, chairperson of African Fashion International (AFI) which organised the fashion events, and her billionaire husband Patrice Motsepe. Premier Helen Zille also attended.

Ramkilawan slammed spending money on Cape Town fashion week as inappropriate.

City officials meanwhile confirmed they spent a total R1,95-million on the event that concluded on Saturday night.

Ramkilawan said: “The problem is that we don’t know how this event and expense helps designers grow. The city needs to justify what came out of this. AFI needs to show us what they deliver for this money.”

“We need to put more deliverables in place to make sure the money is spent properly… The council has a high reporting process to justify how we spend our budget. I’m hoping AFI has that too.”

He said city officials gave the fashion council only R650,000 for the current 2013/14 financial year. The council is run within the local government framework to build the local fashion industry.

“We are expected to deliver training, develop the fashion industry and look into retail platforms where fashion designers can trade. If we received R1,9-million that would help us with creating export opportunities for local designers. We want to take designers to international trade fairs too,” said Ramkilawan.

He said week’s fashion event “needs to shift from being about entertainment to encouraging designers to develop their businesses”.

“That’s the key role of a fashion week… There needs to be a bigger drive to get buyers instead of sponsors at these events. We’re not sure how many fashion industry stakeholders were present,” said Ramkilawan.

De Lille’s spokesperson Solly Malatsi referred queries about the expenditure to mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing, Grant Pascoe.

Pascoe replied: “Fashion week is one of the strategic events that are in line with broader plans to establish Cape Town as the events capital of the continent.

“The benefits of this event outweigh the city’s financial support as it creates jobs for the local economy, gives local designers the much-needed platform to showcase their designs and brings a diverse group fashion lovers from all over the world to Cape Town.”

But a determined Ramkilawan said a fashion event should not be about tourism, but about developing fashion designers. He noted that a number of fashion designers have gone broke and shut shop as they needed financial backing.

Anton Groenewald, executive director of the city’s tourism, events and marketing department, said the city government spent R1,25-million to cover fashion week’s related costs, R200,000 towards its “programme to promote the best students who qualify to participate (in the event)” and R500,000 towards the mayoral dinner. He said funding towards the event would continue.

“The city and AFI are in a three-year agreement. The success of the event’s attendance and media coverage positions Cape Town as a design city,” said Groenewald.

Ramkilawan responded: “Getting coverage in the media is pointless if nobody buys your clothes. Fashion designers need financial help. We don’t know how this event has helped them.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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