Lesotho’s apparel chains and their positive impact on the economy

The apparel and textile industry continues to boom in Lesotho. It has been a major source of economic growth for the country. The African Growth and Opportunities Act and the South African Customs Union have been essential in connecting Lesotho to world (including other African) markets.

It is important the this industry continues to be supported and experience greater growth opportunities.  This industry has created many jobs for people in Lesotho, and has led to more stable economy, as well as offered job/skills training and healthcare to its workers. The growth of this industry has led to improved quality of life in Lesotho (Kao).

Not only does this industry continue to give Lesotho economic power, but it also gives the country branding power and identity with their fashion. Fashion designers are attempting to move more garment factories into Lesotho (they’re mostly in South Africa now). This will create even more jobs for people in Lesotho, and require people in Lesotho not to have to travel (as far) for work. Additionally, so much of textiles produced are rooted in Sotho culture. These garments create a great sense of pride on their own with the worldwide exchange of their designs. It will bring Sothos even more pride, to have their clothing made with a “Made in Lesotho” label (Brown).

It is important that world doesn’t see Lesotho just as one of the continents poorest countries. It’s important that stereotypes are shattered about Lesotho, and Sotho culture. The apparel, textile, and fashion industry is doing just that. Lesotho is proud to be home to creative fashion designers who have their garments on display during fashion shows in Paris, and in printed quilts in Anthropologie (see image below of Basotho blankets at a fashion show).

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Lesotho is becoming a real contender in this market, and has carved out a space to compete in this market. This is bringing economic growth and sustainability to the country, and especially to women. It will be an even more positive trend if fashion designers get their wish and expand factories into Lesotho – tapping into a not fully saturated market, and further expanding business in Lesotho.

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Citations:

Kao, Moshe. November 26, 2016. Lesotho’s apparel value chains: Opportunity for sustainable development? Retrieved from: http://lestimes.com/lesothos-apparel-value-chains/

Brown, Ryan Lenora. September 13, 2016. Lesotho fashion designers hope to make a blanket statement. Retrieved from: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2016/0913/Lesotho-fashion-designers-hope-to-make-a-blanket-statement

March 2015. The Basotho blanket, a style signature in lesotho. The Other. Retrieved from: http://www.the-other.info/2015/south-africas-tribal-basotho-blanket-for-herdsmen-and-royals-alike

Photos: (top) Lesotho Times http://www.lestimes.com

(bottom) The Other http://www.the-other.info

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