BY: Monde Mtsi
CAPE TOWN – Recently, interns at United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) participating in the STAND Progam (Students Training in Arts and Design) were prescribed a brief to break away in two groups and conceptualize and launch two companies. One group, composed of Wilanda, Rose-Ann, Paul, Winifer, and lead by Norha Kavanagh, put their heads together to create a design house called, ARSHEL.
ARSHEL is a design house which produces womenswear, as the simulated work states. Its vision is to empower young women by creating innovative wardrobe essentials that replicate their personalities of boldness, fierceness and soulfulness, to name a few. The team worked through processes that involved understanding how textiles and design work hand-in-hand; Business Development, Marketing and Communications, and even event production. Some key findings by the group included identifying when presenting to a selection of buyers, what they would need to do to stand out and which retailers their brand would best fit with: These included Variazioni, Edit Boutique and Nordstrom.
Putting together the time and effort to make ARSHEL happen has been tremendous for the group, whose skills were clearly put to the test. Winnie applied her talented designer and drawing skills, while Rose-Ann utilized her technical abilities to help the team excel in areas such as its logo creation. Paul, the team’s pattern genuis also played influence in the colour trend forecasting for the project. Wilanda’s articulate ability to research and devlop concise and practical findings was what further assisted team leader Norha, to tailor the brand’s business growth and vision with her management background.
“What we learned at the end of the process was that we needed each other in order to create the company and put the collection together,” states Norha Kavanagh. “We’re all from different and challenging backgrounds, and to have UCOF and Ciano see such possibility from us and give us access to so many resources that we would have otherwise not been able to get to, has really pushed our ambitions and motivated us to do more and become more. With a background such as my own, where you are the sole responsible adult for family members, you rely heavily on programs such as STAND to further assist you to reach your dreams. Being part of both UCOF and STAND has been an amazing experience for myself and the team and we have been driven to work hard, be dedicated, and believe twice as much in our own personal value and the change we can bring about our generation,” concludes Kavanagh.
UCOF, being the singular entity in the United States that provides free fashion education to under-resourced youths, takes pride in its organisation, its STAND program, and the students and interns who participate and use the opportunity to its fullest. With this recent project reaching its climax, UCOF looks forward to what the interns will conceptualize and produce next.
Monde Msti is a South African men’s style blogger based in Cape Town. He is a respected voice in the South African fashion community and is often featured in magazines and talk shows for his expertise. He is the founding editor of Renaissance Men SA.