Pricing models used but most local fashion designers are very absurd as the masses cannot afford their products, especially in a market that is flooded with a lot of cheaper and trendy Chinese and South African products.
For instance a simple pair of Chino trousers will cost a maximum of $20 after it has been imported from Mzansi, but a local designer will charge you double that amount for a locally produced one. But why is this the case?
We caught up with local fashion designer, Tafadzwa Moyo of the Kidd Hunta brand who will be representing Zimbabwe at the 2017 edition of the International Fashion Showcase in London, running from February 17 to 21 after outshining six other local designers and he explained to us what makes the pricing of local products so ridiculously high.
“The whole pricing model is based on the work involved, the one thing that we value is quality, so all the costs of research amongst other things factored in when producing a product will result in the price of a pair of Chino pants that costs $20 in South Africa to cost $50 if being produced locally,” said Tafadzwa.
“One of the major reasons for this is that most of the fabrics we use are imported whereas for Chinese or South African products, they get their material from within their country.
“To add to that, we also do not do mass market productions, as Kidd Hunta, we focus on exclusive ranges targeted for the middle and top class folks.
“So to say $50 is expensive that is not fair to us because we are creating a pair of Chino pants that has the same quality as that of big brands like Pringle which will cost you like a $100,” explained Tafadzwa.
Though his responses might be justified the truth of the matter is that the middle and top class folks actually wear Chino pants from South Africa. A majority of them buy these lovely trendy clothes at boutiques in town and not these high class brands such as Pringle.
Quizzed on what happens then to the lower class folk seeing that they form the majority of the population considering the poor performance of the economy he said, “As Kidd Hunta we do have products for the lower class folk. Not to say the quality of the fabrics we use is poor but it is lower in standard compared to that of our targeted niche.
“But I will reemphasize that our target is for those people who enjoy individualism not to have a scenario where when one gets into town they bump into a number of people who are wearing exactly the same shirt of pair of trousers as they are wearing.”
Moyo however bemoaned the collapse of local manufacturing industry as this has led to the drop in confidence, locals have in home made products.
“The collapse of the local clothing manufacturing industry has had a negative effect on designers as the confidence of the consumers has dropped. This has created a gap filled by Chinese and other international products.
“Chinese have the financial muscle to produce in bulk and varying fabrics. Whereas back home we can’t not keep up with the trends and still maintain low prices. “For instance to make skinny jeans that are trending nowadays, we need stretching fabric but we don’t have it made locally.
“The few manufacturing fabric companies left in Zimbabwe are still producing fabrics that were in fashion decades ago. This lack of innovation has adversely affected us as designers,” lamented Moyo.
Now in light of the challenges that Moyo highlighted, is there a future for local designers or they will keep on flying to fashion shows that are not really making them money but just giving them international coverage?
“Indeed we are not there yet, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for us to get to place where we can say that we are making real money. When you see us travelling to all those international fashion shows, we will actually be trying to reach out to new markets so that we expand our reach. But to say there is real money being made that will be a lie.
“To date, we have not seen the fruit of the money we have invested in the brand since we started but l am confident that we will make a breakthrough soon.
“As Kidd Hunta we have the moto, ‘Brave Hearts Never Fail’, the only hindrance we have is our mindset, if we want to resuscitate the industry it starts with you and I, we have to fight and make it happen.
“The fact that we going out there in London and the existence of such platforms shows that the global market is seeing some great potential in Zimbabwe so that again shows there is room for the fashion industry to boom,” respond Moyo.