The Zambian textile and clothing industry has seen better days and is now facing stiff competition from imported cheap garments and also from very cheap second-hand clothing commonly known as 'salaula'.
The ordinary Zambian would rather go for cheap ‘salaula’ (second hand clothes) than new clothes from an established shop if he/she wanted to top up the wardrobe.
Traders of second-hand clothes are found at all the major markets of the country and on corridor along the streets of major towns. One is able to buy anything from underwear, babywear, beddings, shoes to suits and other gents and ladies clothing.
The Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) has banned trading in second-hand underwear for health reasons but the trade goes on.
The Textile and Clothing Industry started experiencing a downward trend when the market was flooded with these cheap second-hand clothes (Zambian salaula) in the late 80s.
But traders of second-hand clothes (salaula) do not carry the blame alone for the state of the Clothing industry. Cheap imported garments from Asia are also to blame for the state in which the textile and clothing industries are in.
Established textile companies like Mulungushi textiles (Kabwe) or Kafue textiles (Kafue) could barely operate due to the influx of these imported garments. Hence these companies were closed. However, plans are underway to have them opened again.
The Zambian Chitenge, the popular wrap around skirt for Zambian women, is also not spared from these imported cheap fabrics. In urban areas, we are witnessing a slow demise of the chitenge especially among the young whose current trend is modern western attire.
However, the potential in the clothing industry is there as evidenced by the recently launched Giordano Zambia. Giordano is one of the world’s leading retailers of children, ladies and gents clothing. It is located along the great east road at East Park Mall in Lusaka. This is the first store (Giordano) in Africa.
The Zambians of today, especially the youths, are very fashion conscious and Giordano Zambia are guaranteed of a ready market.
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