Fashion with a cause

SDR Photo
When compiling Women24’s worst and best fashion galleries, the criteria is quite simple: If it looks pretty, it goes in the “Best of” gallery. If it looks weird/funny or strange, it goes in the “Worst of” gallery.

So, while choosing the suitable candidates for SA Fashion Week’s best/worst galleries, I didn’t think twice about adding this particular Gert Johan Coetzee design in the “Worst of” gallery.

I even boldly captioned it: “It looks as if it could take someone’s eye out!” and swiftly moved along to the next image.

Then I read more about Gert’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection, and realised that I’d made a mistake. You see, yes, the dress does look like a creature from under the sea… and yes, it could poke someone’s eye out… but that’s the whole point.

Gert Johan’s latest designs were created with one thought in mind: to raise awareness for the victims of gender violence and child abuse. 

His inspiration? The sea urchin. A creature that would be defenceless and vulnerable were it not for its protective spikes.

So yes, those spikes are meant to poke anyone that raises a hand against a woman or child.

“There has been so much violence against women in the news this year already, and I wish we could eradicate that. GJC is all about making women look and feel beautiful, and I started thinking ‘Imagine clothes could become armour to protect defenceless women’,” says Coetzee.

“That is why I decided to dedicate my Spring/Summer 2013 collection to women who face violence, and why I approached Shout, whose message that we should stand up and not be silent really resonates with me,’ explains the designer.

In conjunction with Shout and Project Dignity, a a KwaZulu Natal-based initiative, GJC’s latest venture hopes to provide washable sanitary protection for rural girls. “We are investigating ways to raise money, including donating a percentage of the sale price of certain GJC garments,” says Gert.

So while, at first glance, it may seem that his designs are far out or strange, his Spring/Summer 2013 collection is made of actually wearable,  practical designs that have been dramatised for the runway, all in the name of a good cause.

Women24, as a platform that stands up for the rights of women, is behind GJC all the way. The man sure knows how to make a point, that’s for sure!

Click here to see a gallery of his entire collection.

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