Fashionable Policies Don't Pay Wages or Create Employment

Article excerpt

As the organised voice of clothing manufacturers nationally and regionally, it is appropriate that I comment on some of the views expressed by Tony Ehrenreich and MEC Alan Winde on the state of the clothing industry ("Ehrenreich and MEC disagree on textile industry success", Cape Times, June 13).

The Apparel Manufacturers of SA (Amsa) and its members have previously recorded their appreciation of the support and assistance provided to our sector by the national government.

We want equally to record our appreciation for the provincial governments, not only in the Western Cape but elsewhere, for the many initiatives they have undertaken in support of our sector.

The survival and sustainability of the clothing industry will depend on the co-operation and alignment of all interventions by its stakeholders. These include provincial and national government as well as organised labour and the employer bodies.

Two fundamental realities need to be highlighted in regard to the debate on appropriate policy measures to unlock the full growth and job-creation potential of the sector.

The first is that speed to market and fast fashion supply chain models will not be sufficient to deliver massive job creation. The European Union is littered with examples of clothing industries that embraced the speed to market fast fashion business model, going back many years. The reality in countries such as Italy is that the manufacturing base shrank significantly and ultimately stabilised on the fast fashion model, but on a far lower employment base.

To leverage the industry's employment creation potential, it will have to extend its competitiveness to core and commodity apparel products. …