FILE PHOTO: Customers push their shopping carts during the Black Friday sales event on Thanksgiving Day at Target in Chicago
JOHANNESBURG - Conscious Durbanites remember that “Local is Lekker,” as South Africa heads for Black Friday next month.

A  recent survey conducted by South African online marketplace, bidorbuy, says Durbanites like movies, music CDs and LPs more than other online shoppers. Electronics and fashion are top buying items in South Africa.

In a constrained economy, there is a huge temptation to buy cheap imports or discounted store-made goods rather than local brands.

But buying local also boost jobs and manufacturing.

Proudly South African chief executive Eustace Mashimbye says: “Simply rejecting Proudly South African goods based on the belief that they cost more is a lazy response to our call to buy local to save and create job… Of course, “fong kong” items are cheaper, but it is important to compare apples with apples and not compare cheap, poor quality goods with well made, local items of excellent quality. “

Mashimbye says Proudly SA is working hard to effect a fundamental change in attitude towards home grown, manufactured and produced goods.

“Our art, artefacts and designer clothes have been bought by international celebrities. A local chandelier from a Karoo based company made it into the Obama’s White House.

Beyoncé has given a nod to Maxhosa by Laduma designs, which have also been worn by Alicia Keys,” Mashimbye says. 

File image IOL.

“Laduma is someone who is not afraid to put a high price tag on his beautiful woollen range of designer clothes. We know that he could produce them cheaper with imported wool, but he is keeping it local, giving jobs to spinners and dyers by buying local. His clothes stand up to quality and value for money scrutiny against any international fashion house."

Dr Precious Moloi Motsepe, the founder and chief executive of African Fashion International, says the manufacturing industry has the highest multiplier effect, significantly affecting job creation and social impact. 

Motsepe says the Department of Trade and Industry  considers clothing, textiles, leather and footwear (CTLF) to be a key labour-intensive industry in their Industrial Policy Action Plan. In 2017, CTLF production accounted for 3.3 percent of South Africa’s gross domestic product, up from 1� percent in 2013. 

“Yet, policy is not enough to boost the market. CottonSA  calculated in the early 2000�s, more than 120 000 people were employed in the local clothing industry. In 2016 employment declined by more than half, to less than 60 000 people employed.”

Motsepe says growing the opportunities for African designers was tightly linked to investing in manufacturing and the entire supply chain.

University of KwaZulu-Natal small business development expert Lindiwe Kunene says there is a great fashion talent in the province. 

However,  local entrepreneurs need to be careful to protect their brands.

Proudly South African recently came out in defence of Laduma Ngxokolo in his case against retailer Zara, when a range of socks that bore a striking resemblance to his Khanyisa cardigan design appeared in their stores. Zara subsequently discontinued the sale of the socks.

Quiteria Kekana and George Malelu, the co-founders and managers at Quiteria & George, says that counterfeiting threatened many local and international luxury brands.

“In addition to reduced profitability, fashion counterfeiting gnaws at the brand uniqueness of small fashion designers.  The influx of cheap clothing imports coupled with clothing counterfeits are crippling small and large luxury clothing brands.”

Kekana and Malel advise the following measures that small designers can put in place to counter the risk of fashion counterfeits:
Setting up online stores:

Online marketplaces provide an alternative for local designers who want to minimise the risk of their designs being copied. Online stores thrive on exclusivity as the clothing items and accessories being sold are not easily accessible to counterfeiters.

Pop-up stores: 

The concept of pop-up stores enables small designers to build their brands at a low cost. Upcoming designers who have no physical premises can sell their clothing items at places where their target customers shop. 

Pop-up stores, like online stores have an element of exclusivity, which is a crucial differentiator for luxury brands. Designers engage with customers and promote their brand, while making sales when they utilise pop-up stores.

Join forces with the government 
and e-commerce stores:

The South African government has in recent years, improved Intellectual Property (IP) protection to handle the growing number of infringement cases. 

Upcoming designers can enhance their anti-counterfeit strategies by making use of the channels that the government provides.

Register design trademarks: 

Although this option is more costly, especially for start-up designers who need to cut operating costs, it provides a workable anti-counterfeit solution. 

South African law protects intellectual property, but only if a trademark is officially registered. Once your trademark is officially registered in South Africa, a designer can take legal action against counterfeits.