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Clothing sector to be revived in Mother City

The Cape Town clothing and textile sector is set to be revived by exploring a number of ways to source local clothing, away from the Chinese import market, in order to create more job opportunities for locals.

“The clothing sector in Cape Town is one of the oldest in the City with a rich history, and I have found that our local factories are more than apt to produce quality clothing for local consumers. We don’t have to stand back in competing with the Chinese clothing market, but rather take the lead,” said Mayco member for economic opportunity and asset management James Vos, during an interview with TygerBurger.

He made these intentions clear at a general meeting of the Cape Clothing and Textile Cluster (CCTC) last week Tuesday.

“The growing value of quick response in the context of ‘fast fashion’ is leading retailers to favour sourcing options from local suppliers.” The trend of fast fashion, Vos explains, favours the speed at which large scale fashion can be brought to market and is preferred over cheap goods.

“H&M, for example, is a leader in fast fashion right now. But it is also imported and I ask myself why can the local clothing sector not take the lead in the market place to such an extent that we can even export,” he said.

“The opportunity also exists to build better relationships between local manufacturers, big retailers and designers,” he said.

Vos says the revival of the clothing and textile industry in the City is high on his priority list.

“It makes good business sense for the City to invest and stimulate demand and trade in this industry as it remains a significant employer in the city employing over 23 600 individuals, making it the second largest employer within the manufacturing sector.

“The clothing and textiles industry is also a significant contributor to Cape Town’s exports with clothing and textile products totalling R4.4 billion in 2017. Given the challenging economic climate, this is a figure we should all be proud of, but more importantly we must find ways to expand and retain this sector,” Vos added.

The City plans to provide resources to assist the sector by means of regular talks and providing funding to the Cape Town Fashion Council, the Western Cape Clothing and Textile Service Centre, the Craft and Design Institute and the CCTC.

“By hosting regular sessions with key roleplayers in the industry we can collaborate on growth opportunities, while at the same time identify blockages with industries to find ways to resolve it.”

The funding, Vos said, will be used for training and up-skilling programmes, cross-skilling, internships, product development, business development, promotion and placement.

“The proof of this approach is well supported by CCTC’s 2018 annual report that summarises performance improvements of 34% sales growth above inflation and 35% growth in employment for CCTC member firms over the last four years.”

In addition to this, the City will next year commission research to measure and analyse the economic contribution of Cape Town’s clothing and textile sector in order to identify opportunities and map the way forward.

In the last financial year, just over 150 SMMEs in the sector received financial support from the City, allowing over 300 students to receive training and assistance in finding employment.

Vos says this trend, coupled with the rise of the ethically-minded consumer has created new opportunities in the clothing and textile industry in South Africa.

“Cape Town, with its strong retail presence, is perhaps the best placed domestic city to adapt to these trends and to lead the revival of this important industry.”

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