The Fashion District is in a colourful part of Johannesburg that has been specially earmarked for the development of the fashion industry. Situated in the inner city’s eastern quadrant, in an area traditionally associated with the garment sector, the district is made up of 26 blocks, bordered by Market, Kerk, Von Wielligh and End streets.
By formalising it as the Fashion District, hopes are that the area will become the hub of South Africa’s fashion industry where clothing is designed, manufactured and displayed. The development should also stimulate trading and facilitate cross-border trade and investment.
It is hoped, too, that it will generate public interest in locally manufactured garments and stimulate national and international tourism.
The Fashion District is a hive of activity for approximately 1 000 enterprises. The district provides services, directly and indirectly, to associated fashion industry operators such as suppliers and service providers, manufacturers, designers, distributors and merchandisers.
To demarcate and brand the area, metal banners in the shape of garment patterns have been erected to stamp the Fashion District’s identity.
It also has the Fashion Kapitol, a square that takes up most of a block in the heart of the district. The kapitol consists of 30 shops and boutiques, offices, studios, a restaurant, a small square, an outdoor ramp and an amphitheatre, and an arcade linking Pritchard and Market streets. The anchor tenant is fashion designer Clive Rundle.
The kapitol has three target markets: fashion-conscious suburban shoppers, downtown shoppers who work in the CBD, and tourists. Its African flavour will be a drawcard for tourists.
Public art, sponsored by the JDA, has been placed in the square. A beaded comb and a pair of beaded takkies mark the entrance to the kapitol, while a beaded sewing machine and a beaded satellite dish offset the square.
In the kapitol, priority will be given to Made in Jozi products. The recently formed Fashion District Institute manages the space.
New lighting and new paving links the Fashion District with the nearby High Court Precinct, running from Von Brandis Street, along President and Pritchard streets, and linking to Polly Street in the Fashion District. Trees have been planted in President and Pritchard streets.
The main objectives behind establishing the Fashion District are:
- To create a safe, secure, attractive and functional district;
- To afford access to social and economic activities; and
- To maximise economic growth.
The Fashion Districts spans 26 blocks – with End Street in the east, Von Wielligh Street in the west, Market Street in the south and Kerk Street in the north. The northern section of the district has several residential blocks, with newly converted residential blocks in the central district, making it 50 percent residential and 50 percent wholesale, retail and manufacturing.
There are about 1 000 small- and medium-sized enterprises clustered in this area. The Johannesburg Development Agency intends helping support existing medium-to-large garment manufacturing in the Fashion District as well as to encourage new industry in the area with the aim of attracting investment.
The development targets the growth of employment, of enterprises, and growth in investment. The Fashion District Institution provides sector support and manages the district.
It is anticipated the district will secure – through additional investment – the sustainability of existing enterprises, and the existing jobs within them, and ongoing skills development of practitioners in the area.
The objectives of development in this area are to:
- Develop fashion industry network clusters and associations;
- Provide enterprise support to existing and potential garment fashion industry enterprises;
- Design and implement a Garment Fashion Industry place marketing programme;
- Develop a Community Improvement District Precinct Plan; and
- Create a suitable institutional mechanism to strengthen industry linkages and activities.
To achieve a viable fashion district that is safe and secure, the JDA has embarked on City Improvement District (CID) plans that aim to promote good urban management. This will be achieved through upgrading of the public environment and the entire infrastructure of the area, including roads and telecommunications and the refurbishment of surrounding old buildings.
To achieve a viable fashion district that is safe and secure, the JDA has begun making plans for a city improvement district (CID) that aims to promote good urban management. This will be achieved through upgrading the public environment and the entire infrastructure of the area, including roads and telecommunications, and the refurbishment of surrounding old buildings.
The upgrade will involve the introduction of urban amenities, and prioritising pedestrian use of the area.
Another unique feature of the district is the gateways in the form of garment patterns, which give it a particular character.
There is a concentration of art deco buildings. Once these are restored they will highlight Johannesburg’s architectural heritage and help to affirm its position as one of the world’s most impressive art deco capitals.