By: Tebogo Mokwena
Many township-based clothing brands struggle to access markets to sell their goods, and this can be tackled through collaborations and creating business platforms, according to Township Brands Store co-founder Refiloe Molefe. Molefe, who is the co-founder of Township Brands Store in Alexandra, Johannesburg, told Vutivi News that they launched the shop because of the challenges clothing businesses faced in getting shelf space. He said that they initially started providing a platform to businesses in 2019 when they hosted pop-up sessions in townships in Ekurhuleni after promoting township businesses for free on social media.
He said that once the movement gained momentum, they were approached by the owner of the property where they opened the Township Brands Store in the same year. When they started out, they had 20 different township brands from Ekurhuleni, Soweto and Alexandra displaying their brands, according to Molefe. However, after Covid-19 struck the country, many brands were forced to close, whittling the number down to 10 brands. Molefe believes that the challenges faced by township brands include access to markets and services like printing and manufacturing.
“We decided to provide this platform to the brands in order to take a step forward toward solving this issue,” he said. Molefe said that as a result, some of the brands were able to display their products in other stores in Gauteng. And in the future, they aim to establish their own academy where they can train young people interested in fashion and design and equip them with the skills needed to succeed as entrepreneurs in the fashion industry. One of the greatest challenges in the South African textile industry is competition with foreign markets as many foreign textile producers produce cheaper clothes at a far greater scale. Also, small local businesses compete with big-name clothing brands, stores and manufacturers.
In order to address these challenges, the government launched the Retail–Clothing Textile Footwear Leather (R-CTFL) Master Plan, which includes investing in value chains, growing employment and advancing inclusion and transformation. The aim of the plan includes expanding local retail procurement of local CTFL products from 45% to 65%, equaling R 66 billion by 2030.