BBC recently published an article/video titled ‘Fake fabrics threaten Ghana’s textile industry‘. Video managed to highlight how what was once a powerful Ghanaian textile industry is now losing its weight to the likes of the Chinese imports, whilst in another sense specifically iscolating ‘ONLY’ Vlisco and the other fabric brands that remain under Vlisco group mother company own by the dutch.
The truth is Vlisco group poses more of a threat to the Ghana Textile industry than the Chinese imports, in fact to the fashion industry as a whole. Not to credit the use of foreign fabrics, but At least Chinese imports are sold at prices that leave enough room for local tailors, designers and creatives to give their finished products competitive market prices locally and internationally, where as Vlisco doesn’t with their exaggerated costs which is mainly suitable for the more affluent designers in Ghana and foreign designers with western currencies.
Numerous articles continue to stress how Chinese imports are not African, eat into our textile market, and we need to support our own. Fair enough, yet they all fail to acknowledge the elephant in the room which is the Vlisco group which takes much from Africa and does very little in return financially.
Their fabrics are manufactured in Holland despite the cheaper labour and jobs they could provide for the key target nations. They have bilboards all across west and central Africa and never hire photographers from the said countries for their campaigns. To date Not One Ghanaian based Model Has Campaigned For Vlisco nor graced their bilboards and this could be said for the other countries they retail in. If only travel cost wasn’t excessive, it won’t be surprising if they started flying models from overseas for their runway shows here.
Their sponsorship for events goes as far as simply giving out fabrics, unless they are buying out runway slots. Initially Vlisco would collaborate with designers to create garments with their fabrics, and give them the fabrics used for free in return for the rights of the designs, which you can decide if that is a fair deal.
If you think that was a fair deal, for their new collection, now the group sources their designs from Holland designers (who are paid to design) which is now being marketed in Africa as already made clothes by the company and displayed on their runway shows, who needs Ghanaian designers aye? Good bye to the one benefit African designers gained from Vlisco which was showing their faces on their runway shows.
One can understand why there is little noise made about the fabric company that is eating out of the Ghanaian textile industry just like the Chinese. The reason being is they hold regular events from fashion shows and the women of the month pageant targeting an audience of some of the key stake holders in the arts based ministries, tourism bodies, government, diplomats and media. the events also involves the participation of designers. And then form relations with key African blogs to advertise or partner with, which fairly puts a mussel on those that wish to maintain a relationship.
This makes it hard for them to critique the vlisco brand when they are technically inviting them shows and such, but are then quick to critique Chinese imports for disrupting the textile market.
Not implying that this is orchestrated, but Chinese imports is a scapegoat for blame whilst Ghanaian fashionistas and government remain silence on European companies that also contribute to the downfall of Ghana’s textile industry due to associations. Everyone is entitled to their rights to use which fabrics suits them best, irregardless of where they get them from. Free will and free market is ideal, it’s survival of the fittest. But lets not pretend the sole banning of Chinese imports will benefit Ghanaians.
In fact if the government bodies were to find a way to exempt or ban Chinese imports, The African fashion world will suffer more and Africans will lose. Such an act will allow companies like Vlisco, Woodin and more, none of which are African owned, to jack up their prices as competition would be out the way.
Banning Chinese imports without applying appropriate legislation on such other companies will do no benefit for the Ghanaian textile industry nor the fashion world. But once again, ministries and fashion bloggers will not make the obvious clear due to personal relationships.
To start with, our government needs to sanction or penalize companies that do not use Ghanaian faces across bilboards, especially those in the fashion industry.
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