Textiles and clothing account for roughly ten per cent of South Africa’s manufacturing jobs. However, the industry has been struggling for many years. Competition from Asia and African countries has led to a decline in the industry for over two decades.
South Africa has traditionally been one of the largest clothing producers in Africa. In the past 15 years, it is estimated that 1, 50,000 jobs have been lost in the textile industry, and 2,000 to 3,000 workers lose their jobs every year. The garment industry in South Africa has better conditions than many other parts of the world, although wages can still be low. Workers here are predominantly women, often single parents working to provide their family’s only source of income, putting them in a vulnerable position.
The current economic climate is challenging for the clothing sector in South Africa. Prices are rising and consumer confidence is low, leading buyers to reduce non-essential spending. However, apparel is still in demand, and the market grew in 2016 despite these setbacks.
International brands are starting to make a splash in the market, giving consumers a wider array of choices. Manufacturers and retailers have also started creating more clothing aimed at plus-size women, as this is a significant and underserved market.