Social media pictures which circulated recently showing empty seats at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFW Cape Town) seemed to imply that Botswana designers did not turn up for the event and the show was weakly attended.
The belief was however refuted by the Marketing manager of African Fashion International (which coordinates MBFW Cape Town), Lindokuhle Maluleke, in an exclusive interview with Time Out.
“Firstly, regarding the issue of ‘low turnout,’ this is not entirely accurate. We had 500 guests including media, RSVP for the 17:30 show slot, on the 24th of March. There was a significant turnout throughout the evening and ongoing traffic of our guests between the shows and our hosting venue, which housed our VIP, Media, and Xperience AFI Lounges,” she said.
Maluleke explained that various factors were in play during the evening of the event, starting with the common matter of guests who “RSVP for a show then arrive late only to find entrance doors closed when a show starts”. She also said it was not uncommon for shows of first time designers to not be well attended compared to those of established designers and their brands which earn them a following.
“This is not to say that we did not do our part in promoting Batswana designers shows. For every designer we, and our PR company, send out invitations to VIP guests (celebrities, key members of the textile industry, and government officials – particularly from the Department of Arts and Culture, and our main sponsors,” she said also adding that, “We also send out invitations to our key print, online, social and TV media. And then lastly, we sell our tickets online to the public. Our designers are also allocated reserved seats for their shows, so they can send us a list of loyal clients or special guests.”
Maluleke also said the weather was a factor as it led to the initial evacuation that took place during Stefania Morland’s show on the 23rd. The weather actually led to a second evacuation the following day during Kefseddy Designs’ show. “Therefore, this brings into question what time the circulating images were taken,” she asked.
While Black Trash’s show did not stage, Sweetie’s show did, providing some proof that Batswana designers appeared for the showcase. “All designers are welcome to apply to showcase on our platform, by applying online. To our knowledge, these three brands are the only Batswana brands that applied and paid for their show slots. In which case, denying them their show slot would be illogical,” explained Maluleke.