Under SA Fashion Week’s Fashion Fusion Project, Jacques Van Der Watt of Black Coffee gave a preview of a collection with an artisanal collaboration.

On Wednesday night at his Arts on Main store, Jacques Van Der Watt the designer of Black Coffee gave an inkling of his autumn/winter 2015 collection which included collaborative work with the finest crafters from Ekurhuleni.

“Craft is a major contributing factor in contemporary fashion design. SAFW’s mission is to assist the crafts and craftsperson alike, to gain a foothold in the creative fashion design industry of South Africa,” says Lucilla Booyzen, Director of SA Fashion Week.

So what does this collaboration mean for both designer and crafter? It generates substantial income, and serves as exposure for master crafters.


The collection brought out fine and accessible ready-to-wear and peaked in aspirational avant-garde designs. Stockings were hand-painted with sparrows to name a few, silk screened bags were highly fashionable, including hand-crafted accessories such as brooches and neckpieces. And as luxury lays in the painstakingly minute details, it was the beadwork that came as a surprise and double-weaving details which sealed opulence.

“It is quite challenging working with a group of people when you are used to working alone, but at the same time it is very inspiring, because, obviously you now not just [asking yourself] ‘ag, now what can I do’,” said Van Der Watt.  “You are specifically looking at the skill that every person has and trying to think of how you can use that skill in a way that is perfect for the brand, you want to keep the signature of the brand while working with different crafters.”

One of the challenges for the designer was getting to know the crafter’s skill levels at a very short period of time.

“Obviously if the project is successful as we hope it will be and we carry on working with the crafters it will become easier and easier because we will become like a family and know one another more. That is what the fusion is all about: actually fusing the craft so that the one cannot be without the other one,” said the designer.

He further added on the experience: "Sometimes the day to day thing of designing is that you quite closed off from the outside world, you just working in your own studio. It is quite great to have a team coming in like that. Even though it is quite challenging there is always like a start off point that is quite exciting.  The challenge is to get to quite a modern place with craft. Obviously, even though we talking about craft tonight, ultimately it is fashion and if it is not fashion, it is not going to sell. That is the challenge."

The rest of the collection will be unveiled at SA Fashion Week’s autumn/winter collections at the Crowne Plaza (Rosebank) on 15 October at 8pm.

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