For the past many decades, Asia has been the hub for textile manufacturing and sourcing. Countries like India, China, Bangladesh, and Turkey have been the leaders when it comes to textile manufacturing and sourcing. Retailers and buyers from all across the globe have relied on Asia for their sourcing needs for years. The Asian textile industry has developed so much, that it has shredded the image of sweatshop and churning out cheap material.


Asia has been a one-stop-shop for manufacturing and sourcing needs of many buyers from across the globe, but not lagging behind is Africa. Buyers are always on a lookout for new sourcing avenues. Because of widespread labor malpractices in Asian countries and unfavorable manufacturing practices, buyers are moving towards other countries. African textile industry is on the rise because of the increasing demand for ethically sourced material and the ability to build a profitable and sustainable business.


But whether this demand for African textiles is higher than the demand for Asian textile is the real question. A major advantage that Asia has over Africa is its technical textile industry. The industry for technical textiles in Asia is booming. People are now inclined towards buying different and innovative products, which is major reason for the growth of this industry in Asia. It is estimated that the technical textile industry will grow by 20% over the next decade. On the other hand, technical textile is a very small industry in Africa. It is, although, a developing industry, but Asia still remains ahead of Africa when it comes to technical textiles.


Nonetheless, Africa is well known for its handmade and hand woven fabrics and the industry is developing at a fast pace. Africa has a pool of skilled and dedicated workers and a variety of artisanal textiles. But the most important of them all is that Africa has legal framework that encourages export. A combination of all these elements makes for an excellent place for buyers sourcing needs.


Every region in Africa has its own personal style and produce different kinds of fabrics and materials using an array of techniques, in addition to the artisanal textiles. These techniques not only create a variety of material, but produce luxurious and opulent fabric for which the demand is very high. The production of these textiles and fabrics is highly influenced by tradition, fashion, culture, religion, trade and changing tastes in terms of fashion. These textiles are also highly influenced by the women of Africa. Their personal style is reflected in textile production across Africa.

 

A major factor while sourcing from Asia or Africa is the kind of textiles required. Africa specializes in artisanal textiles like batik, kyenkyen, batikari, kente, cotton wax printing, etc. The benefit of artisanal printing is that one can get any kind of fabric and get your choice of prints designed and printed with the traditional methods. Gaining maximum popularity among buyers from across the world and on the international fashion scene are the cotton wax prints. These traditional methods for creating your own wax prints give buyers an array of color and design options. Unlike hand-spun or hand-woven fabrics, cotton wax textile industry highly reflects Africa's culture and has been a great boost for the economy.


Before World War II, the textile industry in Africa majorly catered to manufacturing of home textiles like rugs and blankets. However, this scenario changed after and the sector developed at a fast pace. Currently, the African Textile industry consists of more than 300 manufacturers spread all across the African continent but mainly in Eastern and Western Cape Gauteng, whereas Ghana continues to be the hub of artisanal as well as modern textiles. In the African continent, these countries are the largest producer of yarns, fabrics, home textiles, and technical textiles.


Since the year 2002, Asia's share of world low-cost exports has slightly declined which has proven beneficial for Africa. Globalization is also another major factor for the growth of the African textile industry. There have been major changes in the ownership of textile companies in the African continent which has contributed to the growth of this industry and the introduction of 7 year tariff plans in the year 1995 have also proven beneficial for the African textile industry. In recent times, a variety of trade shows have also been organized all across the African continent to bring the local artisans and manufacturers to compete on a global platform.


On one hand where the African textile industry is still growing, the Asian textile industry is well established and has been this way for the past many decades. There have been ups and downs but Asia still remains the pioneer for textile sourcing because of the variety it offers. One major reason for that is the customer's taste and demand. The industry is modernizing because people's clothing taste is becoming more sophisticated. Therefore, Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, China, turkey and Thailand are much ahead of Africa in the race for textile sourcing.


On one hand where Africa consists of a wealth of artisanal textiles, Asia deals with more of everyday textiles like cotton, yarn, jute, handloom, etc. But most importantly, Asia has an abundance of technical textiles and technological advancements required to produce these technical textiles which the African continent lacks.

 

The future of textile and apparel industry is in Asia. With so many economies carrying out a variety of functions, the Asian textile industry is well established and is still flourishing. China has its own textile city and Turkey was recorded to be the fourth-largest exporter of apparel and the seventh-largest exporter of textiles in the world as of year 2009. Similar data has been recorded all across the Asian continent for the past many years.


The Asian continent is heading towards the global market and is all set to handle tough universal competition. It is safe to say that the African textile industry is booming but Asia still remains the leader for buyers' sourcing needs.


References:


1.      Allafrica.com

2.      Thamesandhudson.com

3.      Mbendi.com

4.      Global-production.com

5.      Source.ethicalfashionforum.com

6.      Just-style.com

7.      Thesupplychange.org

8.      Textileworldasia.com


Image Courtesy:


1.      Muezart.com

2.      Flickr.com

3.      Hatterns.com