Tlale takes financial strain

2012-09-01 18:06

Suppliers have had to approach lawyers and threaten to attach his property in order to be paid

Fashion maverick David Tlale might sell high couture to an elite clientele, but the celebrity designer is battling to pay off his ­creditors.

While the fashion fraternity celebrates the flamboyant Tlale getting a spot at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, the news has been tainted by his financial woes.

The latest drama involves several unpaid bills of over R100 000 that date back to 2010 for his extravagant fashion show themed “Midnight”.

“Admittedly I have faced some ­financial struggles but I have entered into an agreement with my creditors to repay them,” Tlale conceded this week.

City Press learned on Tuesday a company that worked on his star-studded 2010 Fashion Week show has already taken the legal route in a desperate bid to recoup their money.

Eben Keun, co-owner of Breinstorm Brand Architects, says they are yet to receive R43 210,42.

“Our mails to him have mostly been ignored. On one occasion, still in 2010, we did meet and David promised to settle within three months. Nothing came of this promise,” said Keun.

This is not the first time Tlale has made headlines for failing to pay his bills.

Late last year, a Sunday tabloid reported his failure to repay almost R200 000 to the Royal ­Marang Hotel in North West. In this case, Tlale was contracted to design staff uniforms for which he was paid.

When he failed to produce, Odwa Makiwane, lawyers for the hotel, demanded the money back.

As he did this week, Tlale admitted to being in financial turmoil.

The case has yet to be settled.

Another report stated that Tlale still owes stage constructers Dream Sets R65 000 for the same 2010 show.

A resigned Keun said: “There is something wrong with our local system of glitz and glam surrounding fashion weeks if there is a lack of business sense going down behind the scenes.

“I believe this scenario between us and David Tlale is proof of a system that need to be overhauled or reconsidered if South African fashion is to be a real economic segment, as opposed to a celebrity party.”

Tlale has left a trail of angry businesspeople.

Eugenie Drakes, the owner of craft jewellery label Piece, said she had to “pester” Tlale for almost two years to be paid after working with him in 2009 at the Arise show in New York.

“After a long time of begging for the money, we took him to the lawyers who he gave the runaround until we decided to take the sheriff to his studio in Braamfontein to attach his belongings.

Only then did he pay us,” she said.

Drakes said when Tlale showed at the Wedding Expo last year, he did not pay the stall costs until the organisers locked up his designs to force him to pay.

“David is not good with money; he has an extravagant life.

It’s sad how he gets funding all the time, while other designers are never granted the same opportunities yet they run their businesses honourably,” added Drakes.

Tlale said he is working on fixing his business.

“Part of the repayment process includes fixing my business properly so as to make amends to the few people I still owe. It has been tough, but I’m slowly getting out of the rut I have found my business in,” he told City Press.

When Africa Fashion International was asked about their golden boy’s financial drama, general manager Greg Blackbeard said they were “not involved in designer businesses to the point of designer supplier or service provider relationships”.

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