Monday, April 5, 2010

The Chinese Juggernaut Has Won!

Recently I had a conversation with somebody in the South African clothing industry who has decided that the local textile industry is dead. Dead...

I simply cannot accept that post mortem. Another well-known figure in our local fashion industry who cannot accept the statement is Collen Jack.

Colleen has many years of experience making patterns for the local fashion industry and has worked very closely with some of the most prolific designers on the local scene, including Clive Rundle (seen here in the picture).

I had a long and passionate discussion with Colleen on the topic this week and we are both trying feverishly to come up with an action plan to turn around this fatalistic way of thinking and to help to arm young designers in this country with the resilience and tools that they need to fight this global trend.

Certainly, the Chinese Juggernaut owns the lion's share of the textile markets globally. I was at the China City Market on the weekend and I can see why. There is an endless selection of clothing available at prices that we cannot hope to compete with locally. Finished garments are available for less than our labour cost on a similar garment manufactured here. Combined with the fact that most of our local textile mills have shut down under the mounting pressure, it is no small task that we are faced with to turn the tide.

Why do we believe that it can be done, when so many are ready to give in to the belief that it is all over with? Perhaps it is our independent spirit? Perhaps it is our belief in the underdog?

Look more closely at how the Chinese have come to own the market. They employ child labour in their factories. They work inhumanely long shifts without rest. They pay less than three dollars a day to their labourers. They do everything in their power to dodge import duties and taxes on goods.

In a world that is becoming more socially aware, how can dominance based on such dodgy practices continue indefinitely?

I make a conscious effort to buy local where I can, even when it costs me more, because I understand the underlying influences at play. If more and more people could do the same, we could certainly begin to turn the tide.

Colleen is working hard to do the same and she teaches young designers how to cost their production properly and squeeze the most value from their supply chain through frugal management so that they have a better chance at survival under mounting pressures. If you would like to learn more about her courses, you can contact her at

Become a part of the underground movement to fight the Chinese Juggernaut and buy locally manufactured products...

Have a great day in full colour!

Kind regards



1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more! We've recently had problems in Cape Town with 2 of our local cotton mills closing; there are options, but they involve buying very large quantities of fabric at a time.