Where Namibian Fashion Events Need To Improve

By: Rukee Kaakunga

If you’re a Namibian who loves local fashion, chances are that you have learnt to prepare for the worst whenever you’re about to attend a fashion event. We’ve been through the most when it comes to them. The pain of waiting up to two hours for shows to start or worst yet, shows that get cancelled last minute.

We’ve survived shows where people who don’t know the difference between a high school arts project and an actual fashion collection are allowed to showcase their “creations”. Having a good experience at a fashion event is so rare and when it happens, we celebrate and over hype it although to be frank, this is supposed to be a given.

I spoke to a local PR practitioner who has years of experience in putting together some of the most memorable events in Namibia, including fashion events. Corrie Du Plessis was behind the 99 FM and Jameson Autumn/Winter Fashion Show which took place in 2013 at the luxurious Hilton Hotel in Windhoek. This remains as one of the best fashion shows we’ve seen in recent years – from the collections showcased to way the event was organized. According to him, there’s five main aspects to consider when putting a fashion event together :

A relevant theme/concept

“What you need to do is conceptualize and work out your theme which will have to be visible in everything you do from layout to your venue as well as the production of the entire show,” Du Plessis says. The theme is “a thread that is woven through and pulling aspects like the production, layout, music and key messages together”.

A solid example of this was the execution of the Manya launch. It was a marvel in terms of a well thought out theme that effortlessly translated from the pre-launch visuals used to promote the brand, the invitation cards, the exclusivity of the event aimed at a specific target market as well as post launch social media marketing. Although the Manya brand is new on the market, fashion designer Ndahafa Shaimemanya knew to stick to a theme that captured the attention of the industry and kept the hype around the brand way after its launch.

The experience

“You don’t just want to give people another event, you want to give them an experience,” says Du Plessis, with his 2013 show being a solid reminder of what Namibians are capable of in terms of fashion events. Another important consideration when it comes to a great fashion experience is stakeholder relations. Stakeholder relations are important in ensuring people who attend you event don’t only have a good time, but are enticed to attend more.

Production

For Du Plessis, stage setup, sound and lighting are other key things to look at. We’ve seen fashion events where basic things such as proper lighting were neglected. If the lighting is not good, how will you ensure that images captured at your event are the best kind to further elevate your brand? With production costs going for anywhere between N$15 000 to N$20 000 or more, creativity can go a long way in saving yourself some money. One of the best examples is the University of Namibia (UNAM) fashion showcase which used to be held as a full on fashion show but later held as a fashion exhibition at a local gallery. Who can forget Leah Misika’s private showcase of her 2016 Spring/Summer showcase which featured live mannequins, no musical performances and a super laidback experience for her loyal clients and invited media? She once again did a stellar job at hosting a well put together private off-site show during fashion week.

Leah Misika’s Spring/Summer show was refreshing, interesting and let the fashion do the talking. Photo : Walter Kariko

Key Messages

On key messages that serve as prime communicators for brands, Corrie Du Plessis says that it’s important to figure out exactly what message you want to put out. “Is it more about the brand itself, the sponsors of your event or both?” he asks.

Your Market

The target market, he concludes, is another key factor in successfully putting together a fashion event. “You need to market your fashion show to the right market.Some fashion shows cater to very niche markets while other are catered to the modern Namibian woman for example,” he says. You don’t want to invite people to a fashion show who won’t buy a single garment from you, give you media and social media publicity or both. Nothing should be for free so your guest list should be strategical in reaping benefits for your brand.”

 

Have you been to fashion events in Namibia? Tell us about a few of your favourites in the comments below