EMPOWERING THE YOUTH: Speakers Jamal Nxedlana, Wandile Zondo & Khaya Bhubhesi speak on the future of fashion in South Africa.

EMPOWERING THE YOUTH: Speakers (from right to left) Jamal Nxedlana, Wandile Zondo & Khaya ‘Bhubhesi’ Sibiya speak on the future of fashion in South Africa hosted by VOWfm DJ, Sifiso’Deep Ancestral’ Gcabashe (left). Photo: Provided

This months RHTC Online conference on the business of fashion focused on urban street wear and retail. 

RHTC Online hosted its second fashion development conference at the Live Magazine Space in Braamfontein on Saturday.

Mpumelelo ‘Frypan’ Mfula, Wits graduate and founder of RHTC Online says that, there are not enough local contributors to the fashion industry, and this is the purpose of the conference.

Mfula believes that there is a gap in the market for creative ideas, and young people are the ones with ideas. “Very few platforms are available for young people during the growth and development processes,” he said.

“The conference is a creative alternative to mainstream, hence all our speakers are pioneers in their own right” said ,Mfula. .

Speakers at the conference included Wandile Zondo of popular township fashion brand ‘Thesis’, Khaya ‘Bhubesi’ Sibiya co-owner of ‘Punk & Ivy’ and Jamal Nxedlana the founder of the ‘Missshape’ fashion label.

Zondo started ‘Thesis’ 10 years ago in Mofolo, Soweto with his former business partner. Their business model is molded around “developing the face of Soweto” he said.

“There is money ekasi that our people are spending in the city centers like Rosebank,” said Zondo.

Mobility of the store gives ‘Punk & Ivy’ an edge over most other fashion businesses. Nine meters long and three meters high, their mobile boutique allows them to reach their customers with convenience.

“You have to invest in yourself,” says Sibiya, who runs his business with his wife, Bianca.

The Missshape brand caters for fuller figured women. Nxedlana studied fashion design. His mother, who was also in the fashion industry, gave him a kick-start and she included him in her fashion business.

“My mother had the factory but no brand vision,” said Nxedlana.

He used his knowledge and his mother’s infrastructure to breathe life into ‘Misss shape’.

Budding fashionista Kamohelo Matalingoane (18) hustles transport money to attend the RHTC Online conference monthly.

“I love street wear Mfwethu (brother),” he told WitsVuvuzela. Having just completed his matric last year, he says engaging with fashion keeps him away from alcohol and drugs, “especially nyaope” which is ravaging youth in Snakepark where he is from.

RHTC Online welcomes all local designers who want to showcase their creations on their website platform. “We want to integrate various cultures into everyday fashion.” Said Mfula.

BUDDING FASHIONISTA'S: Young people engage with pioneers in the fashion industry.

BUDDING FASHIONISTA’S: Young people engage with pioneers in the fashion industry. Photo: Provided