How Western industries are ruining the craftmanship of clothing manufactur
As I visited both Zambia and Malawi recently, I like to know a lot about the local Fashion Industry. What works here? How do people like to dress? And where do clothes come from? I understand it’s different from our fashion culture and resources may differ a lot, as well as the cultural perspective on clothing. Nevertheless, everyone needs clothes so, therefore, there is always an existing clothing industry. I reached out to several people during my stay and what I figured out, really shocked me!
Crafmanship and Passion
In both Zambia and Malawi, people are very developed to do fine handcrafts and it has become their specialty. They create incredible fine garments, mostly by hand and sometimes with sewing machines. They work very precisely, especially compared to other manufacturing countries in the world. It has been their specialty for ages and until the end of the
So what happened?
China & the West ruined it
The change came from both sides of the world – from China and from the West. Let me start by explaining the Chinese part.
In China, two main reasons made the change for Africa. The first one is the one-child-policy – making the government deciding every family should get one child. This policy has been existing for a long time, but in 2013 it changed in China. They came with a two-child-policy, allowing every family to have two children. But the government decided, that if you get two kids, one is for China and one is for Africa. China somehow finds its’ solution in ‘helping’ Africa by sending its people.
So now there is a substantial amount of Chinese people in Africa and they found their way to earn an income: importing cheap goods from China and selling them on the African market. As in most countries the GNP (gross national product) is rather low, the products gained popularity quickly. Chinese stores started popping up everywhere and nowadays the Asian fashion stores are mostly leading the market.
And then there was the West. During the
The situation today
So nowadays, when you walk around Livingstone or Lilongwe for instance, you will find fashion around you. In stores and on the market. But all they offer is either Western second-hand fashion or Chinese cheap and fast-fashion. It’s almost impossible to find any local manufacturer or tailor in here. Tailoring has been a craftmanship for ages, but today it is not worth it to learn it anymore. As the job is not guaranteed with income anymore, due to the huge competition of the Chinese and the West. This is so shocking to me, I never knew how the local fashion industry is ruined!
We may not be able to turn things around, we may not be able to stop the Chinese citizens from importing their fashion. But for
This topic is extremely relevant in alignment with my blog about the local manufacturing company Taste of Malawi – you can read the blog about my visit here