One of the most significant challenges faced by South Africans is the high youth unemployment rate. Government and the private sector are unable to create sufficient job opportunities to accommodate young graduates. Entrepreneurship is a significant solution in a climate of unstable economy, limited job security and abundant social issues. It is debated whether entrepreneurship can be taught. Some researchers believe entrepreneurs are born and cannot be made. However, employers seek people with specialised skills, quick learners who can easily shift from one role to another (Majithia 2017), competing on a global level. Fashion entrepreneurship education could help prepare students for real business situations, whether as entrepreneurs or responsive employees.
Fashion design students have the necessary knowledge and technical skills required to design and make fashion products (Burke 2013), and fashion entrepreneurship should follow naturally. However, Blomfield and Trade (2002) argue that fashion design students do not know how to use their creativity for commercial gain. These young designers struggle to promote and sell their products to the envisaged market. This paper gives voice to fashion alumni, who believe their education should have prepared them for business.
A successful fashion entrepreneur must have personal entrepreneurial qualities to identify prospects in a fast-paced industry (Burke 2013). This paper explores how these characteristics can be embedded in the curriculum to equip students with necessary skills needed to compete in an unknowable future. Objectives of a fashion education programme should match socio-economic needs of its context. It is necessary for academia to adapt to best practices to establish a viable and sustainable future (Palomo-Lovinski & Faerm 2014). In sharing the voices of students past and present, this research aims to contribute to the discussions and development of a sustainable and effective Fashion Entrepreneurship curriculum within a South African context.
Keywords: fashion, fashion entrepreneurship, fashion entrepreneurship education