As a smaller than usual group of aspirant fashion design students prepares for the first round of judging in the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award, presented by Durban Fashion Fair, the organisers are encouraged by the response in a year when tertiary education has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown rules.

“None of the universities or technikons are functioning normally, and most students are learning from home. That being said, it has been amazing to see how many have persevered with this competition and are really determined to make an impression this year,”

said fashion programme director Tiffany Prior

Prior confirmed that the overall entry, which generally tops a hundred designers from the design colleges and technikons across KwaZulu-Natal, is anticipated to be smaller than usual, but said that this enthusiasm and determination to succeed in the competition had not waned at all.

“Many of the students started work on their conceptual designs and outfits as soon as the theme was released in February, and they have been able to work at home to complete their garments,”

said Prior

“The students place a very high priority on this competition because they know how much they learn from the whole process and how much they stand to benefit through the exposure it offers,”

said Prior

she added.

Durban raised designer Terrence Bray, who lectured at Durban University of Technology for many years, says the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award is a vital part of the students curriculum

“It is a starting point for so many student designers in terms of the media coverage and the platform given to them,”

says Bray

“The nature of the theme allows something more creative for them to work on and explore more experimental fashion.

“This one project seems to cover a lot of ground in terms of experience and skill and the whole design process from beginning to end, which is why I think it is a very useful project in the syllabus,”

says Bray

he said.

Bray added that Gold Circle and the competition can feel pride at the number of brands that have been nurtured through the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award over the years.

“This is what makes this student competition unique,”

says Bray

he said.

“If you look at the success of the brands that have walked through that process, it makes it the most successful fashion event in the country at establishing brands.”

says Bray

Kwame Jazz Kuzwayo, the deputy director of Lindiwe Kuzwayo Academy of Fashion Design agrees with Bray that it gives students a gilt-edged chance to get national exposure and a head start in the fashion industry.

“For years this programme has successfully nurtured young designers, transforming them into well-known brands and businesses,”

says Kuzwayo

adding that the collaboration between the Durban Fashion Fair and the Vodacom Durban July makes a big impact on the fashion industry in the province.

“The 2019 winner Makhosazane Ntshangase was from our academy and we have witnessed her growth, the valuable experience she has gained and the opportunities she has been given all over a short span of time. This is truly amazing!”

added Kuzwayo

On Monday 17th August the student designers will be scrutinised by a panel of judges under strict Covid-19 regulations before twenty are announced as the successful semi-finalists to go through to the final judging and virtual show on Tuesday 25 August.

More information can be found at

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