Why We Should Wear Clothes Made in South Africa


Apart from the trendiness of buying local, there are so many reasons that we should look for clothes made in South Africa when out shopping. There’s sentiment and patriotism; there’s environmentalism; and there’s supporting the economy.

My family knows first-hand the impact the clothing sector can have. My grandmother worked in the textile industry for decades, supporting a family of eight children, and my father was able to afford university thanks to SACTWU’s bursaries. This is the story I remember when I buy South African-made products.

The Economic Rationale Behind Buying Local

As it’s become glaringly obvious that our country’s ills cannot be cured without economic empowerment, I’ve become increasingly interested in different economic policies that promote job creation which can in turn help to address social problems.

The economic concept of the factors of production and their remuneration is a helpful model to understand how our choices as consumers have broader impact. In short, there are four factors (or players in the economy) which produce goods or services for which they are paid. Land, natural resources, can be rented; labour, the work done by humans, can be hired; capital earns interest, and entrepreneurship can earn profit.


It’s fairly straightforward to check whether an item has been produced by local entrepreneurship and labour. Clearly, an item that has been produced by both local labour and entrepreneurship is more local than one produced by local labour but sold by an international brand or vice versa. It benefits the South African economy much more directly.

Another economic concept which is widely understood is the interaction between demand and supply. If demand for a product increases, so too will supply thereof, thereby increasing the labour force. In our capitalist economy, we cannot expect businesses to just churn out local goods if there is no demand for them. By shopping for South African products, we as consumers are demanding local goods and businesses will have little choice but to supply local goods.

This is the ethos behind buying local and #WearSA. Everyone in South Africa has at some point complained about homeless people or expressed frustration with the unemployment rate but it’s much more valuable to actually ask why there is so much unemployment and how we can change this. Many local industries have suffered due to cheap foreign imports or the inability to produce quality goods. Fortunately, over the last few years, retailers have further localised their supply chains.

Create a Capsule Wardrobe of Locally-Made Clothes

In the last few months, I’ve set myself the challenge of wearing at least one South African item every day. To do this, I realise you need to have different types of local clothing: shoes, tops, bags etc. Shoes and bags are the best shortcuts; classic styles work with everything. And although you’re not spending more of your own money, you are at least advertising South African brands: when people ask where you got that one item, you can proudly say it’s South African-made.

Jenna Solomon

Jenna is a journalism, African studies and social development graduate. She writes about active citizenship and lifestyle in South Africa.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *