7 things wannabe fashion designers need to learn if they want to succeed

Durban University of Technology fashion lecturer and seasoned fashion designer Gideon has some solid advice for SA's next generation of fashion creatives

02 February 2020 - 00:00 By Nombuso Kumalo
A collection designed by Babalwa Matiyela.
A collection designed by Babalwa Matiyela.
Image: DUT

What have been your highlights as a fashion lecturer at Durban University of Technology (DUT)?

To see the growth and self worth of the students.

Describe the fashion and textile programme.

From the first year the students are taught the importance of patterning, proportion and punctuality. It is important to see which individual strengths the students have and
help develop and direct their work.

What has been your toughest challenge as the creative director for the graduation collection show?

Teaching the students everything from set design, lighting, music, casting, seating arrangements, hair and makeup to the expectancy of the audience and the prestigious panel of judges.

What feedback have your received about the graduation collection show?

I have been told by the audience and industry people alike that they could not believe the international level of the show and the high quality of work put out by our students. Our graduation show is now considered Durban's major fashion event.

Durban University of Technology fashion lecturer, Gideon.
Durban University of Technology fashion lecturer, Gideon.
Image: DUT

What are some of the design principles you teach your students?

  1. Respect (listen and learn);
  2. Frugality (money cannot hold you back);
  3. Responsibility (you make things happen);
  4. Opportunity (take all the doors opened for you);
  5. Ego (there is a fine line between arrogance and confidence);
  6. Standards (your last collection defines you); and
  7. Impact (always be honest with yourself, clients and your work).

Tell us about your partnership with SA Fashion Week (SAFW).

Lucilla Booysen of SAFW and I have partnered for an incredible five years now. We showcase our students' work at SAFW and there is no greater platform for our students.

Describe the fashion industry in SA today.

Diverse, creative, unbalanced, exciting, and loaded with opportunities. Our industry is not determined by race, gender, religion, sexual preference or fame.

What is the biggest misconception that students have about a fashion qualification?

A fashion qualification does not mean that you walk into head designer slot. You need to work and understand all aspects of your business environment before you can move forward. The major lesson I always instil in them is to think about fashion with an eye to entrepreneurship.

Who would you recommend a DUT fashion design course to?

A qualification from DUT ensures that all aspects of the fashion world and industry are taught and addressed and our students can slot into any global opportunity and excel.

Are there any future DUT fashion collaborations we should be looking out for?

We are working with major universities in China, France and Germany and there will be many more to come in 2020.