The Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award is a Gold Circle initiative that started over two decades ago. It is a pre-raceday fashion competition open only to final year fashion students studying with accredited colleges or universities. They may only enter through their college or university and will be required to design and make a themed raceday ensemble for judging purposes.

The idea was, and still is, to give talented design students an opportunity to start a journey towards a career in fashion. This has been hugely successful for a number of reasons; the enthusiasm of the talented students that submit entries, the colleges that continually support the initiative and the sponsors who believe in it.

Many winners from the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award have gone on to show on national platforms such as Durban Fashion Fair, South African Fashion Week, Africa International and Menswear Fashion Week. Many have started their own fashion businesses and studios and are very successful in a highly competitive industry. Some of our most recent winners have become so successful, they have been invited to show as a Vodacom Durban July Invited Designer. We can proudly say that the Vodacom Durban July was their first truly large platform.


We ask that students submit one finished outfit for judging taking into account the current year’s theme, ensuring that fit, finish quality and attention to detail are highly considered. Students must be creative, but fashion forward and on trend. We select only the ten best, talented students each year. These lucky finalists are given an opportunity to show their work, sharing the runway with eight of South Africa’s most respected designers, our Vodacom Durban July Invited Designers, at the Vodacom Durban July Fashion Showcase which will take place this year on 29 July at Gateway Theatre of Shopping.

The most exciting element of this competition is showing their work on the fashion stage at the Vodacom Durban July, where the winner is announced. The attendance at the Vodacom Durban July is over 50 000 people, the biggest fashion audience in Africa.

Whilst prizes are fantastic, it truly is the TV, media and social media attention that makes it most worthwhile, as this lasts long after race day and places the Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award finalists and the winner firmly in the public eye.