The current international pandemic has forced all small business to think out of the box. The fashion industry is no different. With the closing of stores for lockdown, it is taking a visible knock.
Local designer Fabrice Moyo, owner and founder of the Franc Elis brand, has seen this as an opportunity to help South Africans while keeping his staff in production.
Franc Elis is playing their part in flattening the curve by helping create and distribute reusable face masks throughout South Africa.
Johannesburg-based Moyo, a naturalised South African born in Cameroon, established his brand in 2003. It sells high-end bespoke garments and shows annually at South African Fashion Week.
Moyo halted production of his fashion line, even though there were orders still to be filled.
“I did it out of moral duty to my country and my continent, equally so. As a designer my job is to make products that respond to the need of the time and season,” he said.
Moyo sees the current time as a chance to show how business can help the rest of the country. He gives the analogy that being a designer requires strategic thinking: “It would be slightly silly of me, for instance, to be displaying winter coats when our people are in summer.
“Therefore, under current circumstances, our people need to be protected against a vicious virus by wearing masks.”
Masks have become a hot-ticket item and local production would make them more easily accessible.
Moyo, a trend leader, has been trained to observe. “Designers analyse and translate whatever is happening in the society through our work,” he said.
Moyo has been observing what was happening internationally since the outbreak of Covid-19; he also researched the prices of a surgical mask and realised they were skyrocketing. It was clear an alternative was needed.
Speaking of the creative process, he says: “On 18 March, I started developing a mask style, using equipment available to us. On the 20th, my team and I started production and subsequently advertised online about reusable masks.”
The Franc Elis slogan is: “In peaceful times we make fashion. In war, we fight alongside our soldier. Reusable masks made by Franc Elis.”
Moyo explains that these powerful words are a call of duty. “I am part of the people, my duty call now is to make a mask for my country and my people, just like doctors and nurses, even journalists like yourself.”
He isn’t currently shipping masks and is sticking to local distribution. “Unless the SA government announce a production surplus, I will not ship a single mask out of South Africa. For now, we are distributing locally via a local agent and our existing clients are buying directly from us.”
Orders increased through the weekend, and he is even distributing from home.
In compliance with the law and social distancing, he only has 30 operators working per shift. But before the promulgation of regulation on social distancing, he was only operating at 30% capacity.
Being a strong advocate for social change, Moyo believes and hopes more high-end designers will come to the party and start assisting with the manufacturing of masks because local collaborative efforts will help fight Covid-19.
“We need all hands on deck, and I am sure many designers are doing it already – maybe not on our scale of many thousand per day, but every mask counts.”
Fabrice Moyo can be contacted on:
- 082-854-3960 – Fabrice