Fashion and all that Jazz

Cape Town fashion designer, Julia M'Poko

Cape Town fashion designer, Julia M’Poko picture by Jason Boud 

FASHION and jazz music have been interwoven for decades. But
for the first time, fashionistas and jazzlovers
are being asked to make a “jazz-fashion” statement by wearing proudly South African clothing to the 15th Cape Town International
Jazz Festival.

Thousands are expected to gather for the annual two-day live music extravaganza this weekend and the event’s organiser, espAfrika, is encouraging festival-goers or “festinos” to wear locally designed clothes.

One of the major highlights is that all the clothing memorabilia
for the event has been sourced locally.

The “wear local” or “wear South African” drive is the brainchild of
the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu), the country’s largest trade union in the clothing, textile, footwear and
leather (CTFL) industry, aimed at shining a spotlight on the importance of buying locally produced goods.

”The jazz festival has positioned itself as the premier event, not
only in Cape Town, but in South Africa. And it prides itself on
focusing on and promoting local talent. It’s the perfect platform to
showcase locally produced apparel,” says Sactwu spokesman Fachmy Abrahams.

The “wear South African” initiative has been part of the union’s
campaign to save thousands of jobs in the CTFL industry since the
early 1990s to address the issues of imports into the country.
“About 100 000 jobs were lost due to the influx of imports when
our borders opened in the beginning of a democratic South Africa.
Since then, the number of imports coming into the country has been hard to police.”

The “wear local” campaign at the jazz festival is an effort to promote local fashion. “The more people wear local clothes, the more retailers will be forced to buy and stock locally produced goods”.

Taking on the challenge of showing how “festinos” can look effortlessly jazzy and fashionable at the festival, are young Cape Town designers Kim Gush, Julia M’Poko and Ernest Mahomane.
The trio showcased their jazz inspired designs last night during
an intimate evening at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), titled “Fashion and all that Jazz”.

Local jazz acts such as Shakatak, and Jimmy Nevis serenaded guests while we enjoyed dinner.

The Cape Argus catched up with Elle Rising Star 2013 finalist M’Poko at her home in the city, while she was putting the finishing touches to her garments.

Julia 1

The Cape Town College of Fashion Design graduate says being chosen to showcase at Fashion and all that Jazz feels very “surreal”.

“It’s a very special occasion for me as a lot of designers won’t get an opportunity like this,” she says. “It’s a lot of pressure and nerve-racking, but a learning curve as well”.

M’Poko will showcased seven garments from her brand “Julienne” – that speaks to “confident, strong and sexy women who want to look as glamorous in the office as on a night out,” she says.

Her collection was made-up of clean lines, feminine
hues of whites and blues, and fabrics such as leather, upholstery, mohair and silks.
M’Poko says her collection was inspired by the jacaranda trees she saw while driving in her home town, Pretoria, while the illustrations on her fabrics are inspired by her love for African prints.
“I’m obsessed with African prints. They symbolise the strength and beauty of African women,” she says.

“People are slowly, but surely buying local brands as they start
to realise that we have so much to offer and there is no need to
go overseas.”

Catering for different markets, M’Poko has two versions
of her brand. One is toned down and made of affordable material such as cotton, while the other involves luxury fabrics such as silk and chiffon.

This story first appeared in the Cape Argus (March 26 2014) Pictures by Jason Boud

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