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                            Cape Town Fashion Festival


“Why does a trade union devote time and energy to fashion promotion? Our mandate has jobs at its heart: the quality of jobs and the quantity of jobs, more jobs and better jobs, as the best means to combat poverty and social disintegration. Fashion is a vehicle to that goal. Behind the fun, the glamour, the images, there is a serious business and a major employment opportunity and reality.”

Ebrahim Patel, SACTWU General Secretary,
Gala Fashion Night, 2007


The Cape Town Fashion Festival is South Africa 's biggest sectoral promotion of local products and was launched in 2002 by SACTWU to promote the local clothing, textile and design sectors. The Festival forms part of SACTWU's programme to save jobs and promote and develop the fashion manufacturing industry, embracing clothing, textile, leather and footwear.

In a world cluttered with many fashion events, the Cape Town Fashion Festival offers a fresh take on the fashion industry.

Since its inception in 2002, the Cape Town Fashion Festival has played a major role in promoting all aspects of the South African fashion industry. It has distinguished itself from other fashion events in that it promotes only South African products, gives a voice to workers and highlights fair labour practices, has a strong focus on fashion manufacturing in addition to design, draws tens of thousands of participants through its link with workers in the industry, and draws together stakeholders from industry, retail, labour, government, designers, and the media.


The Cape Town Fashion Festival aims to foster an awareness and appreciation of the link between fashion design and jobs. The festival celebrates the interconnectedness of all parts of the supply chain in this vital industry; encouraging a proudly South African ethic from designers, through workers, manufacturers and retailers to consumers.
The Cape Town Fashion Festival has uniquely incorporated all players in the fashion pipeline, from the designers, tailors and dressmakers through to the CMTs, manufacturers, retailers and the consumer. The Fashion Festival's main objectives since its inception have been to:


  •   Assist the development of sustainable, high value-added exports through the creation of a robust domestic market
  •   Encourage and support design and fashion innovation
  •   Showcase innovation of the industry value chain
  •   Provide mentorship, training and development for industry
  •   Promote investment in the industry and the geographic region
  •   Create and maintain quality jobs in South Africa
  •   Encourage skills development for workers and designers
  •   Highlight the role and contribution of the workers in the industry
  •   Showcase Cape Town and the Western Cape as an innovative and creative hub for fashion development


The South African clothing, textile and footwear industry has huge employment prospects as it is the most labour intensive sector in manufacturing. Employment is currently about 200 000 and there is potential for further growth both directly and indirectly. The industry is an important employer in both urban and rural areas.


Events of The Fashion Festival


The Cape Town Fashion Festival comprises a number of different events to promote local design and manufacturing. Most of the events take place in the first half of the year, while the Spring Queen starts in July and culminates in the final event at the Good Hope Centre in November. Being a dynamic festival, venues and concepts change from year to year. These are however the central elements:

City Catwalk

The City Catwalk is outdoors, free and great fun. Professional models and clothing and textile workers participate in the Catwalk wearing locally designed and produced fashion, while local musicians, such as Judith Sephuma and Jamali, entertain.

Fashion Imbizo

The Fashion Imbizo creates a platform for industry leaders to discuss pressing issues and the development of the industry. Lately issues like the China Quotas and the Customised Sector Programme have been on the agenda. The discussions are followed by fashion shows that highlight the innovative side of the industry.

Gala Fashion Night with the Cape Town Fashion Awards

The Gala Fashion Night is a sophisticated event containing the best of local fashion and music. Since 2006, the Fashion Awards have also been presented at this event. The awards recognise excellence in the clothing, textile, footwear and design sectors and promote public awareness of the achievements of the industry.

Shopping Centre Fashion Shows

The festival brings fashion to the people through fashion shows in shopping centres around Cape Town , including at Cavendish Square , the Promenade in Mitchell's Plain and the V&A Waterfront. These shows are linked with the retailers in the centres, where South African-made clothing can be bought.

CTFL SETA Graduation

Hundreds of workers receive their certificates at the learnership graduation ceremony hosted by SACTWU and the Clothing, Textile, Footwear and Leather SETA.
The ceremony highlights some of the positive aspects of the industry and helps to instil confidence and pride in ordinary workers who can celebrate their skills gains.

Spring Queen

The annual SACTWU Spring Queen & Fashion Pageant, although much older than other Festival events, is an important part of the Festival. The Spring Queen sees clothing and textile workers in locally made fashion on the catwalk and the final draws thousands to the Good Hope Centre in November every year.


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