The South Africa fashion scene shakes twice with the FASHIONTech™ Africa Conference & the announcement of the Threads Stitched by Standard Bank 2018 winner.
The day started off with the final assessment of the accelerator’s burgeoning fashion entrepreneurs. Greeted with a handshake, a smile and an empty chair in a private room, the entrepreneurs had seven minutes to disc uss their business plans, provide additional support and receive feedback on a one-to-one basis with the Threads judges; Vincent Hoogduijn, CEO of Spree, Laduma Ngxokolo of MaxHosa by Laduma – Fashion Designer, Jackie Burger, former Editor of ELLE magazine and Founder of Salon 58, Timothy Maurice Webster, Brain and Brand Expert, and Tania Habimana, Threads Co-founder.
Following that was the start of the very first FASHIONTech™ Africa Conference, an event that promised to investigate the unrivaled potential of technology to drive the fashion and retail industry on the continent.
The conference began with an eye-opening talk by Selvin Govender, Marketing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars, on The Changing Face of Retail – What Fashion can learn from the Automotive Industry. Exclusive to the audience, Mr Govender discussed the disruptive methods Mercedes-Benz is using to give retail distribution and the way they sell cars, a complete facelift.
A panel discussion followed and was moderated by Ms Habimana. Influencers Anesu Chogugudza and Sarah Langa Heaton and brand representatives Lorraine Dyer, General Manager of Converse Sub-Sahara Africa and Celeste Smit, Creative Director of suit-brand Tailor Me, examined the role of influencers and the changing landscape of the influencer marketing world. These professionals provided thought-provoking insight on fake followers, paid-for posts and content co-creation. The conference also featured a panel discussion on the future of media, moderated by Kojo Baffoe and featuring Jackie Burger, former Editor of ELLE magazine and Founder of Salon 58; Toby Shapshak, Editor-in-Chief of Stuff magazine and contributing writer for Forbes.com; and Andile Masuku, Executive Producer and Host of African Tech Roundup. The panel stirred strong audience reactions as they discussed paper format, revenue models and the emergence of non-journalistic journalism in the media and publishing industry.
A further highlight of the FASHIONTech™ Africa Conference was the presence of former President Kgalema Motlanthe and his wife Gugu. They attended to view the concept presentations of the teams that participated in the first 24-hour FASHIONTech™ Hackathon in partnership with Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct and FlipTin. The hackathon took place on Monday, 16 April and was a day-long collaborative exercise where the Threads entrepreneurs were teamed up with technology experts in the field of augmented reality, 3D and virtual reality. It followed design-thinking methodology through a workshop hosted by Rentia Venter of Deloitte Africa. During the event, the teams had 24 hours to produce a business-viable technology-based solution to one of fashion’s biggest problems: How to increase online sales from within one’s retail infrastructure.
The teams presented working prototypes that more than impressed the panel of judges, comprised of Unathi Mtya, Chief Information Officer at Parliament of the Republic of Southern Africa, Mustapha Zaouini, CEO of Fliptin; and Abu Cassim, Founder of Jozi Angels and Kendal Makgamathe Events and Marketing Manager Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct.
But there could only be one winner, and for the 2018 edition, the very first, it was the augmented-reality team comprised of Della Tusiime, Sabiha Badsha, Junior Mmotla and Bridgette Lize. Each was awarded prizes courtesy of Converse Shoes, Dark and Lovely and Spree.
As evening approached, the Threads Stitched by Standard Bank Business of Fashion Accelerator graduation ceremony commenced. The ambiance switched as local celebrities, fashionistas, designers and notable business personalities entered the venue to celebrate the accomplishments of the 12 Threads alumni. The event was hosted by Bridget Masinga, Kaya FM Radio Host, wearing a beautiful coat by Thabo Makhetha, one of the Threads finalists.
Lively with emotions and entertainment, the ceremony awed attendees with a digitally-inspired fashion show that made use of augmented reality to share the designers’ information by simple use of smartphone cameras and an app. Afterward, singer and idols finalist Lungisa Xhamela performed his brand new hit single ‘Think About It’.
Finally, the Threads entrepreneurs, wearing their graduation gowns, took to the stage to receive their certificates and be congratulated by the accelerator judges and founders. The winner was then announced: Anthony Smith of 2Bop.
Anthony achieved the best overall grade on the programme, based on a system that takes into account the submission of weekly class reports, class assignments and homework, a business plan and a face-to-face business plan discussion. An independent review committee, as well as the Threads judges, reviewed work by each of the 12 finalists and a grade was attributed. Anthony is the first winner of the Threads Stitched by Standard Bank Business of Fashion Accelerator.
“Not only was this a proud moment for all who participated in our first Business of Fashion Accelerator, but it was a proud moment for the bank,” says Cleo Zwane, Senior Business Banking Manager at Standard Bank. “As has been proven beyond a doubt, effective SMEs are the engine of any economy in the world. The Threads finalists are on the road to becoming successful entrepreneurs who can stimulate economic growth through job creation and investor interest, thus driving Africa’s growth.”