Opportunities in the apparel industry

06 Nov, 2020 - 00:11 0 Views

eBusiness Weekly

Joseline Sithole
It looks like my brothers and sisters in the United States have been busy this election week. However, to ward off the drudgery of the elections, Americans took some time off to celebrate “darkness”, (Halloween)

Celebrities, superstars and other noteworthy personalities, all fell over themselves to celebrate this holiday. I hear those costumes also cost quite a “penny”.

In addition, the activities that also surround this “eerie” holiday also border on the macabre and gawry. This year a man who lives in Dallas raised the ire of the local Dallas police with his displays of life sized dolls looking like humans and oozing blood all strewn over his lawn.

Of course the traumatised neighbourhood watch went into a frenzy.

According to Investopedia, Halloween is celebrated by 148 million adults in the United States. Out of these millions, 58 percent will decorate their homes and 46 percent will carve a pumpkin.  The country is expected to spend US$8,78 billion on this holiday alone.

A good percentage of this money spend will go to costumes.  It is estimated that, 18 percent of Americans will even buy costumes for their pets.

Among the children, Spiderman and Princess dresses are the most common. Adults gravitate towards Batman, witches and ghost costumes. Of course that got me thinking.

There is indeed a lot of money to be made in this industry especially if one happens to concentrate on niche customer segments.

Globally the fashion industry has performed extremely well though Zimbabwe, is still lagging behind. Even the debate on the National dress is still ongoing.

Statista projects that by 2020, the global fashion industry will have reached US$1,5 trillion.

The biggest apparel markets are the United States, European Union, and China. Sportswear remains an important growth segment within the apparel market.

Current Zimbabwean

apparel market

A deep dive survey into the Zimbabwean apparel industry revealed some rather disturbing trends. There is a lot of importation of clothing into the Zimbabwean market. Key import markets include Turkey, South Africa, the US and UK.

Apparels from Turkey generally is targeted at the high end market. However, we do not have much locally made fashionable apparel though we do have fashion brands like Mudiwahood, Pink Bottoms by Pokello and Military Touch.

Our South African and Nigerian designers are way ahead of us and have been known to feature on highways such as New York Fashion Week.

Stoned Cherie, a South African brand remains a favourite of mine.

It’s exciting to see our youths delving into the fashion industry. Mutsa Kashangura an Africa University student recently started a brand called “Ndiripo  which features everything from track suits, dresses and even masks.

However, Zimbabwe does not disappoint with regards to its industry skills. According Mordor Intelligence, an industry market intelligence fir: “The Zimbabwe clothing worker is highly skilled and able to produce clothing to world standard requirements and importantly at competitive prices.”

The report adds that: “opportunities are available within the textile design space which, will enable the industry to attract customers from a wider market base.”

Apparel industry value chain

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation(UNIDO) in its report entitled “The Global Apparel Value Chain” notes that this industry is buyer driven and is divided into 5 main parts; raw material supply including natural and synthetic fibres, provision of components, production networks, export channels and marketing networks.

Opportunities in the

apparel industry

Production of Raw Materials

Entrepreneurs within the apparel industry can invest in the agricultural value chain. Cotton is a key raw material in this sector. Currently the largest producers of cotton are; India, China and the US.

The US is the biggest exporter of cotton. Zimbabwe has certainly seen a dip in cotton production in recent years and yet the country has enough “stamina: to ensure that we produce enough cotton and even for the region.” In 1963, cotton production growth rate was 150 percent. In 2019 it was even in the negative at -5,26 percent.

These statistics show that there is enough scope to produce this crop especially in the dryer regions of the country.

African traditional material

During yesteryear, the Zimbabwean Arts Industry was well known for its production of Batik material mainly bought from Chapungu Village.

Currently, African material is sourced from China and Tanzania, but we hardly have any material being produced here. However, It is encouraging to note that David Whitehead Textiles have been struck of judicial management and has resumed operations. At its peak, David Whitehead employed about 3 000 employees.

Niche clothing lines

I have a feeling that Matric students in South Africa are going into “Mini Depressions” The famous matric dance is given a godlike status on the year’s calendar by students alike.

Similarly, this occasion is treated with fear and derision by parents who often than not, have to folk out huge amounts of money. To this end, there are now shops which specialise in providing for this niche market. Other niche markets include wedding dresses, party dresses and others. A lot of these are still imported in Zimbabwe.

Sports wear

Sportswear is largely imported in Zimbabwe. Globally the sportswear industry is poised to increase with a 4,11 percent growth rate from 2020 to 2025. Rising health and self-consciousness have led to a boom in this industry.

Technically, advanced apparel also ensures that the average sports fanatic enjoy a relatively comfortable sporting experience.  Adidas, Nike, Puma still lead the pack in global sports apparel. In Zimbabwe, most of the sports apparel is imported and we do need locally make brands.

Model industry

I have seen quite a number of beautiful statuettes models during my walk about. This is one industry that I believe should be revamped. The modelling industry comes with a huge value chain on its own.

The industry itself is worth an estimated US$2 billion and employs about 14 829 with a 2,9 percent in the US alone.  Within the model industry, there are some downstream industries — scouting agencies, model management, nutrition agencies etc. Zimbabwe needs a robust modelling industry

Fashion blog

Fashion blogging is a good alternative to those internet savvy fashion enthusiasts. Overall fashion bloggers earn about 4 500 to 6 000 a month though popular bloggers such as Alexa Chung  and can rake in about 4 500 a post as they have followers who run into millions. Check out some of our very own fashion bloggers like Elsie Mutsaka.


Zimbabwe seem to have a good and vibrant crafts industry though its fortunes have recently decreased. Accessories such as bags and jewellery are mainly being imported. Bridget Mudota, aka Bridget the Jeweller has found this industry to be quite lucrative.

Shoving her MBA aside and degrees in mass media, Mudota is a trailblazing jeweller on the block whose major goal is to ensure that where women are concerned one will never ever fail to make money.

Of course there are many more opportunities in this industry and I would like to encourage entrepreneurs with a fashion flair to try out this industry.

Be inspired by this quote from Carrie Bradshaw:  “I like my money right where I can see it, Hanging in a wardrobe”.

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