Used clothes imported from the US and other developed countries are posing a challenge to Africa's clothing industries. Textile manufacturers are struggling with issues like: smuggling, poor patronage and low purchasing power while capacity for apparel production remains low.
For many micro and small businesses who deal in clothing and apparels, secondhand clothes from developed countries dominate their stalls. With consumers' purchasing power declining, secondhand clothes have become attractive for the low-income group.
Nigeria used to be the largest textile hub in Sub-Saharan Africa, behind South Africa. Nigeria represented 63 per cent of the textile capacity in the West African sub-region. The number of textile and garment factories has fallen from 175 in the mid 1990s to less than 25 in 2010.
Nigerian clothes are not as good as secondhand clothes and fade faster. Consumers would like to buy new clothing but are constrained by paucity of funds. The real threat is not the secondhand clothes but the grey market which imitates local brands and also sells below production costs of local producers. Brands can’t meet up with the kind of price this market offers because of their high cost of production. But there are opportunities waiting to be harnessed in the mass market that seeks quality readymade clothes in various sizes at cheap prices.