10 January 2022, Sandton. A Durban-born accountant turned designer, Shamyra Moodley, has won the prestigious title of AFI Fastrack Young Designer of the Year 2021.
Launched in 2008, AFI Fastrack is a national graduate fashion platform. Designed to run as a year-long programme, emerging designers are paired with industry mentors, and gain access to marketing, sales and showcasing opportunities through AFI’s House of Nala concept store and bi-annual Fashion Weeks.
Although the Fastrack program was interrupted due to Covid 19 and strict lockdowns, AFI ensured that the contestants were exposed to mentorship as well as hands-on exposure to working on a tight budget and strict deadlines at a factory in Durban.
“We are pleased with the outcome of the competition. We were determined to -continue with the program despite hard lockdowns. We will continue to support the development of young designers and support a pipeline of exceptional talent in the industry”, said AFI Executive Chairman Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe.
This year AFI introduced a locally curated reality series to elevate the Young Designer of the Year competition, with four contestants competing on three distinctly relevant challenges, following the designers in a journey from interpretation of a design challenge to fabric sourcing and styling.
Contestants were Keneuoe Mhletswa from Lesotho; Siyabonga Mtshali from Richards Bay; Cheron Dreyer from Cape Town; and Shamyra Moodley from Durban, now based in Cape Town. Judging their style choices were designer Marize Bolton, who was joined by the AMEN duo, Brad and Abiah.
The series aired weekly on AFI’s YouTube channel and viewers watched as the four competing designers sought to win the prestigious award. Previous winners have included Thebe Magugu, who also won the LVMH prize, as well as Rich Mnisi, who has since become a household name.
One challenge required designers to create a sustainable look which would reduce the carbon footprint of their designs and help conserve the planet. Shamyra Moodley repurposed a collection of old neck ties that she collected from male family members to make a beautiful dress that won the round for its conceptual design, wearability and innovative approach to sustainability.
“Who would have thought that as a 40-year-old accountant I would have earned the incredible opportunity to pursue my passion for positive fashion. I am humbled and honoured to represent African Sustainable Fashion. I am super excited for the future holds and beyond blessed to do what I love in the way that I love. Here’s to dreaming big in Africa,” said Shamyra Moodley.
Shamyra takes home a cash prize of R50 000 and an exclusive retail opportunity at the House of Nala concept store.
The runners-up will walk away with R50 000 to share as a start-up capital to invest in their brands. Cheron Dreyer came in second and will take home R25 000, followed by Siyabonga Mtshali taking R15 000 while Keneuoe Mhletswa takes R10 000.