Jeffery Wilson talks everything about The JW Show 2020
The JW Show CEO Jeffery Wilson is draping a suit of resilience in readiness for his annual fashion show on November 28. Cynthia Mukanzi curiously picks the designer’s brain on everything fashion.
How has the business been for The JW Show?
The onslaughts of Covid-19 have destabilised businesses in fashion. We had a lot of plans, but we have had to postpone them indefinitely.
We have been encouraging up and coming designers to use digital platforms to interact with their customers and keep their brands visible.
It hasn’t been easy and restrictions from the government such as procuring licenses for virtual shows have been frustrating.
We did a virtual show, but a lot of the people we were targeting couldn’t afford internet to watch. The truth is, not everyone has access to the internet.
Can internet affordability make or break businesses?
Yes. Hence, we decided to go ahead with The JW Show edition for 2020, but with a limit of 300 attendees as per the state regulations.
The show will be live on all of our social media platforms and we hope to partner with local media TV stations for a live broadcast.
This alone is not enough given that we were targeting more people.
What additional newness is coming with this year’s show?
We are working with 11 designers from Nairobi; a mix of students and upcoming designers unlike last year when we went scouting for talent from the counties.
Unlike the previous edition where showcasing designers were competing for a prize, this one will simply be a platform for unveiling these talented participants. All collections on the runway will come with masks.
We have added a panel discussion where we will generate and share ideas on how we can support upcoming designers and keep them on their feet.
Again, persons living with disabilities in the fashion industry have been left behind during this pandemic and we want to make sure their valuable input is seen and appreciated.
What details are you looking for in the runway collections?
We will be keen on the quality of the fabric employed in designs and creativity of the designers. Each designer has five collections to showcase.
Has it been hard to persuade sponsors to come on board?
It’ been tough because people’s finances have been affected by the pandemic. But we are very grateful to Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) for believing in us.
They are our only sponsor. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and a partnership with them since last year where they committed themselves.
Do you only focus on local organisations or individuals for sponsorships or do you look beyond?
We look beyond, and this year we will be signing an MOU with Mavericks 365, who want to assist designers in the continent to showcase in Dubai, Italy and London Fashion Week.
They will be in charge of facilitating travel requirements for the designers who will be shortlisted.
Your show is hinged on a vision that celebrates Kenyan fashion. Do you see it collaborating with other designers from across Africa in future?
Definitely. We were planning on bringing in three designers from Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa, but the pandemic came in the way of it. We have pushed it to next year.
We were actually sponsored by KFCB to showcase at the African Fashion Week in Dallas, USA, in October 2020.
It was a good opportunity that provided space for connecting with other brilliant designers.
What do you want to get out of The JW Show this year?
To ensure that despite the pandemic, we can still create, produce great shows and remind ourselves of our worth.
We want to shine light on the industry and show people we are still functioning and working hard to keep it thriving.
As an insider in the fashion industry, do you think the state has been supportive during this pandemic?
The government has been of minimal support to the fashion industry. We were looking at things such as existing designers receiving the state tender to mass-produce masks for the country, but that hasn’t happened yet.
We are looking at ways we can work as team to do this as we wait for their communication.
We would also like to collaborate with the private sector given that the government keeps on infringing on our progress.
Has the Kenya Fashion Council , which was formed in March this year, furthered the growth of the textile and apparel industry.
To be honest, it hasn’t been of substantial benefit to the industry, yet. The council is there to help the designers thrive but that’s not happening.
It is a concern and the council has to be held accountable. The management has a problem that must be fixed soon for the sake of the industry.