Africa-inspired designs are now regularly shown on the catwalks in fashion shows in Paris, London and Milan. Fashion is big business, the combined apparel and footwear market in Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be worth US $31 billion according to data from Euro monitor International.
It is important to look through a value-chain approach to see the contribution that a "made in Africa" brand can make to African economies. Technological changes in manufacturing, distribution and marketing are driving the growth of the fashion industry.
The fashion industry is expected to double in the next 10 years, generating up to US $5 trillion annually. In the USA alone, every year $284 billion are spent on fashion retail, through the purchase of 19 billion garments. This presents a tremendous opportunity for Africa at various levels of the value chain: from design to production to marketing, the fashion industry is a profitable business.
Although the good news is that the African fashion industry is already developing. But it is still in its infancy. It needs to do a lot to build its fashion industry.
The textile industry value chain begins with the production of cotton, spinning and twisting of the fibre into yarn, the weaving and knitting of the yearn into fabric, and the bleaching, dying and printing of the fabric to obtain the fashionable garments that is worn today.
Targeting the fashion industry means targeting the whole value chain, from the smallholder farmers to the fashion designers. The fashion industry in particular holds considerable potential to motivate and bring change to some of the most disadvantaged people, especially women and youth, while advancing structural transformation.
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