Johannesburg: Clothing and textile exports to South Africa are set to reach greater heights after almost every major clothing retailer in South Africa flocked to the exhibitions of the Apparel Export Promotion Council India (AEPC) here and in Cape Town over the past week.
Some 70 top class manufacturers from India showcased their latest contemporary designer collections exclusively to Southern African chain store buyers, independent retailers, boutique owners, home textile & soft furnishing buyers, agents, wholesalers, importers and other industry professionals.
On exhibition was a wide range of clothing for men, women and children, scarves & shawls, home textiles, soft furnishings and even yarn.
“We have built up good relationships with major South African clothing retail chains such as Truworths, Foschini and Woolworths,” AEPC deputy secretary-general Vijay Mathur said.
“We had a group from Foschini which recently spent a week in India visiting our manufacturers, so there is definitely great growth since we first started this annual exhibition in South Africa five years ago.
“We were clocking some $30 to $35 million then and this year, we have clocked $51 million, but we have been flat as compared to the previous year because the global slowdown has had its impact on South Africa as well,” he said.
Commenting on the competition in South Africa from China, Mathur conceded that the Asian giant was leading India in selling to South Africa.
“We may be number two in that regard, but we offer something that South Africans needs -- fashion garments, embroidery, sequins, beadwork and the hand washes that India is famous for, so I’m sure that in the coming year, South Africa will see great growth in apparel coming from India.”
Reacting to earlier remarks by analysts that Indian manufacturers were reluctant to set up facilities in South Africa, Mathur said there was potential for this in the longer term.
“Foschini, for example, imports apparel from India, but also makes its own here. They are looking at importing prints from India, so some portion of the garments may be manufactured in partnership and later on we could look at full manufacturing here,” he said.
Another major retailer, Ackermans, has inked a deal with a school uniform manufacturer in India, while Indian garments will also feature at stores of the Mr Price group.
Several buyers who attended a fashion show and dinner at the residence of Indian Consul-General Vikram Doraiswami said they were definitely interested in considering some of the garments modeled as they suited South African consumers’ tastes.