THE URBAN EDGE OF AFRICAN FASHION

The goal of the Fashion District is to build a sustainable, viable, fashionable and functional Fashion District as a hub of economic growth and jobs in the emerging fashion cluster.

The Johannesburg Fashion District is a unique area of the inner city which is brought to life through the vibrant activity of the re-positioning fashion industry that is located there. More than a decade after the start of a period of rapid industrial decline whereby the traditional garment industry all but collapsed, the Johannesburg fashion industry is alive and trying hard to establish its new role with the Johannesburg economy.


The development understands fashion as a broad concept. Although, clothing design, production and sales form the core of the Fashion District, defining its predominant use and character, there are a range of associated aspects of fashion that can add to a wider mix of compatible uses and social support amenities building an exciting, vibey and a productive area. In this regard, fashion District, ranging from DJ bars and restaurants to furniture, furnishing and décor. Central to this vision has been the notion of promoting the “Urban Edge of African Fashion”, capturing the spirit and vision of a fashion-orientated, trend=setting and outward-looking district.


The pool of skilled fashion workers, displaced during the period of decline, has merged with an inflow of skills from neighbouring countries, which together are seeking new opportunities to apply their trade. The result is the early stages of an organic clustering, whereby a significant body of small-scale operators are building economic activity on the favourable supply, market, location and other comparative advantages the Inner City has to offer. Johannesburg traditionally competed in the narrow buyer-lead clothing market that provided the supply line to the major South African retailers, a market that remains competitively unattractive.

The future of the district lies in value-added design and manufacturing around niche products and markets, with a real long-term potential to penetrate specialist local regional and indeed international markets. With some successes to build upon, it is the JDA vision to realise this at a scale that will significantly enhance economic growth, job creation and the revitalisation of the area as a whole.

In the first stage of its project, the JDA have started to define the area through a creative upgrade that ties the streets together through a colourful mosaic running throughout the pavements in a zig-zag of easily recognisable sowing stick patterns. In additional the area is further enhanced by the provision of public resting spaces and gateways that demark the entry points into the district.


What perhaps make the Fashion District project especially exciting and to that extent challenging for the City is that success does not depend on large-scale bricks and mortar development, but rather through creating mechanisms whereby government and other actors can enable the industry to best fulfil its economic growth potential. In this regard the second phase of the project is defining institutional relationships, suitable delivery mechanisms and implementing actions that can, as its first priority, support and grow the industry, along with ensuring quality urban management and continued improvement of the urban environment in the district.