GENEVA — The repeal of restrictive sourcing guidelines and continued duty free access to the U.S. market augur well for African apparel exports, according to a new United Nations report.
“African apparel exporters to the United States were given a new boost when the U.S. Congress repealed AGOA’s ‘abundant supply’ provision in October 2008,” said the U.N. study, referring to the African Growth & Opportunity Act.
The “Economic Development in Africa 2009” report concludes that as a result of the repeal, apparel suppliers from about 12 African countries, including Lesotho, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius and Botswana, could enhance their exports to the U.S. market.
The provision restricted the use by an apparel manufacturer of fabrics originating from non-AGOA countries. The need to comply with the provision had also “created uncertainty” among apparel importers, notes the report compiled by the U.N. Conference on Trade & Development.
However, U.N. and apparel industry analysts point out that given the contraction in U.S. apparel imports in 2008 from many nations, including AGOA countries, and with the decline continuing this year, it might take a while before the African exporters see a boost in shipments.
In 2008, exports of apparel to the U.S. from Lesotho fell 11.4 percent to $340 million compared with a year earlier, Madagascar’s dropped 3.6 percent to $279 million, Kenya’s dipped 0.9 percent to $247 million, Swaziland’s decreased 7.7 percent to $125 million and Mauritius’ declined 11.5 percent to $102 million, according to estimates by the International Textiles & Clothing Bureau.
Habib Ouane, director of UNCTAD’s division for Africa, was upbeat African countries in about three to five years might become a more attractive destination for apparel manufacturers now located in Asian nations, such as China. Ouane said in China, a combination of factors from mounting labor costs, environmental pressures and an appreciating national currency, especially if the yuan becomes fully convertible, could open new opportunities for lower-cost African nations.
But he conceded that for African nations to benefit from an erosion in Chinese competitiveness in labor-intensive manufacturing industries, like apparel, they would need to substantially boost their manufacturing capacity and infrastructure for facilitating trade.
Analysts at the ITCB agreed Africa’s lower labor cost could divert some apparel investment from China to Africa, but added even if the biggest emerging nations lose out, other countries in the region — such as India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia — are likely to dominate the sector for a long time.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast