LebotseSebego makes a Case for a Fashion Industry Association

  • Says sport has the BNSC driving sports development
  • Contends role of govt should be limited to policy direction


The starting point of influencing policies that will grow the local fashion industry is to form an association, the Chief Communications Manager of Mascom Wireless, Tebogo LebotseSebego, has said.

Speaking at the Fashion Without Borders Masterclass that was held at Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC) recently, LebotseSebego said without an association in place, all efforts to have such policies are reduced to fighting a losing battle
The fashion masterclasses highlight the importance of exporting Africa’s rich and diverse culture and artistry to the rest of the world where they continue to be underrepresented.


Government funding
“Who speaks for the fashion industry?,” she queried, noting the sports arena has the Botswana National Sport Commission and other structures that are mandated to speak for sports development.

“You need to have an association where people work full time for the industry,” TebogoSebego, who is also a sports administrator, said. “In the sport commission, there are entities that are working every day to ensure that sport develops. The same needs to be done for the fashion industry funded by the government, which has an obligation to all of us and we need to hold them accountable.”


Textile association
Picking up the cue, fashion designer Lebo Merafhe said the industry has only the Botswana Textile and Clothing Association that has been trying to deal with issues of fair practice and inclusion of Batswana in manufacturing where foreigners dominate.
“They have mainly been advocating for Batswana to have a chance to participate in the value chain of the textile industry because it is predominantly done by foreigners,” Merafhe said. “It speaks very little to other creative disciplines.”

Power to the people
LebotseSebego underscored the need for having an association through which key players in the fashion industry can take back their power from the government whose primary role should be policy direction. The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC) currently runs the country’s biggest fashion show that is linked to Independence celebrations.

“I can’t emphasise enough on the importance of community, policies and believing in our own people,” TebogoSebego said. “I am a firm believer in Botswana’s talent as I have engaged Lesedi Matlapeng to make pieces for me, including designing my wedding gown.”
Shared value

She asserted that in addition to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the concept of creating shared value by coordinating business activities and social concerns can bring about great opportunities of transforming business models for sustainable development.
A better understanding of systems with potential for corporate shared value chains would be beneficial to economics, society and sustainability in the creative space, she added.
“Companies now need to move towards purpose beyond profitability,” TebogoSebego asserted. “Similarly, the fashion industry needs to offer more than just designing a client’s dress. This means you need to come together as an industry and identify each other’s strengths. It is only if you lobby for the things you need that you will see change.

“The advent of social media has given us the platform to critique and wait for the next person’s downfall, but not to influence. The fashion industry needs to come together to lobby for themselves and it can only happen if you are organised and work together.”