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The Department of Fashion and Textiles fashion students recently collaborated with Nicci Boutique on their launch of their store at Gateway.

Speaking on the collaboration was Raveena Naidu, a lecturer at the Department of Fashion and Textiles who was tasked to handle the event.

She said that the marketing team of Nicci Boutique had contacted the Fashion and Textiles Department’s Sunthra Moodley regarding an exciting collaboration between the Department of Fashion and Textiles students, who then shared the information to all staff.

“After reviewing the details, I decided to take on the competition and work with students, we only had a two-week deadline. The theme is extremely important, especially for fashion students which focuses on sustainability and slow fashion,” said Naidu.

Naidu mentioned that despite the short timeframe to work with, she was surprised that they had received nine entries for the competition.

“I must include that this was not included within their semester work. Students had to work in their own time. From the nine entries, three finalists were selected,” she said.

The three finalists were individual entries from Lilly Madlala, Phethile Sithole and a Group entry consisting of Nokwanda Hlophe, Joanne Moolman, Nondumiso Mdlalose, Charmaine Dlamini and Nothando Mkhize.

The group entry depicted living in a world where it is most suitable for the environment for fashion designers to create more sustainable yet fashionable clothing items, to reduce the carbon footprint. Naidu indicated that their paper bag dress inspiration is drawn from a combination of architectural buildings and nature.

One of the individual finalists, Madlala explained her entry, saying that the aim of her garment was to repurpose “waste” material into something fashionable and completely new.

“The main bodice of the garment is made up of the Nicci paper bags (paper mache), I created a belt by braiding a couple of black bin plastics. The frills on the garment are made from Nicci paper bags starting from the waist to an evening length (high and low design). The back of the bodice (with plastic zip) is made from reused, upcycled duvet plastic covers. Every dress needs a bit of sparkle; I have used colourful broken glass bottles to achieve a sequenced garment,” she said.

For Phethile Sithole being selected as one of the Nicci boutique winners was such a humbling experience, especially as a young designer. She was excited when the news was shared and felt that it is a confirmation that she is definitely on the right track.

“For my design, I repurposed Nicci boutique paper bags and designed a tiered garment. The tiers were first scrunched up to create texture then I added black, white and grey, then I added pink and blue dye, for a pop of colour because it goes with my personality. As much as I wanted to achieve the goals of the brief, I also wanted to incorporate my own creative flair into the design. My design also has a one shoulder bodice with plaited straps. I accessorised the look with a mask and hat. The competition was extremely competitive and not as smooth as I perceived it would have been. The day before the competition I honestly felt like withdrawing from it as I tackled every task of compiling the design on my own, and obviously with two hands, it gets overly tiring and discouraging sometimes. Fortunately, prayer, determination and a great emotional support structure saw me through to the finish line where I ultimately showcased my work. On the day of the competition, I received help from my lecturers which made me very happy and at ease,” she said.

As their lecturer, Naidu said that she was very excited that the students were given such an opportunity.

“I am absolutely amazed at the standard of work produced, our three finalists are all first-year students. They had taken on this challenge, worked during their own time and produced exceptional work. If this is the work of first-year students, one can only imagine their final years’ work,” she expressed.

Naidu added that it is vital for DUT students to be part of such collaborations, especially on such a theme.

“Students had a ‘once in the life time’ opportunity. They were invited to the launch of Nicci Boutique at Gateway, students had networked with many influencers and industry guests at the launch. It is crucial that we work on such platforms with our students. The learning that took place during this experience cannot be taught in our class environment. Regarding the theme: The theme of Sustainability, as fashion students, working in the fashion industry, we need to take responsibility and change our methods of working to save our environment. It is important for our students to understand consumer behaviour but also to know the changes we can implement for a better future for all,” she stressed.

The designs were displayed for a week at Gateway’s Nicci Boutique. It is also currently on display in Brickfield Campus.

Pictured: Phethile Sithole and her design.

Waheeda Peters

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