Designer calls for revival in clothing industry

Audrey Magume believes that African women have every reason to be proud of their identity. One way of showing off pride in one’s heritage is through dress. “We have a rich heritage and I am happy that Zimbabwean women now realise the value in dressing up the African way,” she said.

Audrey Magume with some of her designs.
Audrey Magume with some of her designs.

Magume, 33, ventured into designing African attire last year because of the increasing appreciation of African dress codes among Zimbabweans.

“It was difficult at first competing with renowned international labels. I am glad that more people especially women now realise the value of our African dress and appreciate the unique designs that we do,” said the designer, who employs two female tailors and a male designer.

“Gone are the days when the elite of society took pride in dressing up in foreign labels. I am just glad that they have recognised the value of our African prints,” she added.

But Magume, a mother of three, lamented the collapse of the local clothing industry and said this had a negative impact on the pricing of the material used to sew African clothing.


“The cost of the material that we use for these outfits is too high. It restricts and reduces our clientele because it is expensive,” said Magume, revealing that good quality prints cost between $50 to $100.

“Some of the material is not genuine such that when a client washes it once, it quickly fades away and because of sub-standard quality material, some people still doubt the authenticity of African labels,” she said, emphasising the importance of reviving local clothing and textiles industries such as Cone Textiles in Chitungwiza, Paramount Garments in Harare and Julie Whyte.

Govt must help

The period between 2000- 2010, was the most difficult for the textile and clothing sectors due to the harsh macro-economic environment characterised by high inflation levels. Most clothing and textile companies closed while others downsized their operations citing shortages of foreign currency and failure to secure funding from banks.

“There is need for government intervention in reviving the industry if we are to promote local products,” said Magume. She is optimistic of setting up a factory shop in the next couple of years as a way of contributing towards employment creation – for especially women.

“My aim is to provide expert workmanship in each design that I work on. This way, I am guaranteed of a good working relationship with my clients,” she said.

“If we create synergies as local designers, I am positive that we can conquer the world. Professionalism and the creation of unique, good designs will have an impact on the international front.”

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