The Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) is an entity of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality with a specific mandate centred on urban renewal. The Agency, now in its 14th year, was established to halt the economic regression and eventual decay state of the central business district of Port Elizabeth. Back then, the City witnessed high levels of capital flight and increasing numbers of vacant commercial properties.
Fast forward to 2018, the inner-city of Port Elizabeth is in a much better state, but even more interestingly, arts, culture, creativity and fashion are beginning to thrive in the City. This is in part thanks to the MBDA’s approach of incorporating creative arts into public space upgrade projects and restorations.
Infusing art into public spaces has been a signature imprint of the MBDA across its precincts. What this approach has achieved is a revival of the creative industries, it has brought opportunities to local artists, and has livenend up public spaces. Most of the artists who have worked with the MBDA have gone on to open successful galleries, sell their works abroad, develop trading networks and contribute to the revitalisation of Nelson Mandela Bay.
The completion of the Tramways building restoration has added a huge boost to the creative industries by acting as a platform, a marketplace and a meeting point for the business of arts and consumers. The elegant and trendy Tramways building has been a fitting host to one of the signature events in the City’s calendar, the Nelson Mandela Bay Fashion Week. Now in its third year, the initiative has gone from strength to strength, in part due to the support and partnership forged with the MBDA.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Fashion Week is a fashion platform aimed at marketing and exposing designers to other platforms around the rest of Southern Africa. The platform focuses on local Nelson Mandela Bay talent that is previously unexposed and brings them forth into the limelight. This is an annual platform.
2018 was a bigger, bolder and better edition of this annual three-day initiative, an inclusive and diverse offering. The three-night show saw designers from across the country converge at the Tramways building to put on a spectacular showpiece.
As far as the MBDA is concerned, the initiative is more than an event, it’s a prestigious platform for fashion designers, both emerging and highly experienced. The platform brings academia, highly skilled designers, motivated models, interested businesses and other key stakeholders that form part of the value chain for fashion.
This project is crucial for the City, which is struggling with a growing youth unemployment rate. Fashion as an industry contributes greatly to job creation and shows big potential, especially when big names like Laduma Ngxokolo of Maxhosa endorse the platform and stand behind it.
The MBDA has supported the Fashion Week this year by providing both the venue and the printing of a magazine that covered both the fashion and some of the key role players in fashion development in the City.
The Fashion Week has grown immensely over the last few years, with some key successes. For example, Ngxokolo is now a partner to the programme, selected designers are given a platform to have their ranges in stores, there are active partnerships with Amarula and Renault, and there has been an endorsement by the Nelson Mandela University Fashion and Textiles School.
The MBDA is proud to be associated with this initiative and looks forward to a bigger and more impactful 2019 edition.