On the eve of the annual Masa Square Hotel Fashion Show Arts & Society had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and have an exclusive chat with the man behind the overall production, Namibian born but South African Based Jan Malan, CEO of Umzingeli Productions.
The soft spoken Malan describes himself as a ‘Jack of all Trades and a Master of All’ and that he has been in this business for over the past 30 years also citing that the famous model search, M-Net Face of Africa was also his brainchild. Malan has produced shows all over Africa and the world at large and though he is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, his backpack has become his office since he is always travelling across the globe.
When artists think in color he thinks in music. This choreography guru attributes a lot of his inspiration towards good music. Malan states that one look at a line he already has a soundtrack on his mind. This year’s theme: Fashion in the Digital Age attendants treated to neon bright colors and EDM music on the runway.
Malan likens preparing for a show of this magnitude to production of a movie or a play saying it requires a lot of patience, perseverance and discipline. He further says what he hates most is people who do not take their work seriously and those who don’t respect time.
Though the Fashion Industry in Botswana is still relatively small, Malan has challenged the government of Botswana to invest in it because it has the propensity to positively contribute the growth of the economy. He says the different steps taken to have the final product at the fashion show could create a lot more employment. From the designers, seamstress, shoe makers, accessories, makeup and hair all this work is put into preparing for a fashion show and could get the youth off the streets through empowerment, through employment. He has hope for the local industry to be more coercive and fight for their space in the economy.
The last Show had a total of 28 designers and this year they had to cut down to 14 due to budgetary constraints. According to Sales and Marketing Manager of Masa Square Hotel Thapelo Mmono, their biggest challenge is the lack of sponsors for this event but they try their best to keep the ball rolling because as an organization they recognize the importance of the growth of the local fashion designers. Of the 14 designers seven of them are established and they take on another seven newbies who they are paired with to undergo a mentorship program to prepare them for the fashion show. It is worthy to mention that the stage, sound and lights have all been procured locally and Malan has taken on a gentleman Tumelo Nkwe and is working very closely with him. Mmono is confident that in the Foreseeable future Nkwe will be competent to produce a show of this magnitude which is something Malan does all the time all over the world. The biggest challenges that Malan attributed to his line of work is the travelling part of the job, sorting out visas and ensuring that no events overlap which he says can be extremely stressful.