My mission is very simple. I want people to buy African fabric, but not just that, I want people to buy authentic, good quality African prints and batiks.
I recently came across an article written in Punch, a Nigerian daily newspaper titled Chinese ankara chases Nigerian brands out of market which highlights the plight of the textile industry in Nigeria. This plight is suffered in other countries in West Africa. It is not a problem exclusive to one country. There is another even more disturbing one in the Daily Trust: How textiles closure cost over 2,700 lives in Kaduna.
In theory I am not against with any particular country producing any particular product. What I do have an issue with is when there is passing off, forgery and downright copyright infringement. In addition, in order to undercut the prices of existing textile manufacturers, the producers of these illegal imports provide what is quite simply substandard quality. Fabric that runs once washed, little or no durability of the fabric among other things.
The Nigerian textile business was one of the most vibrant industries in Africa in the 1960s.It was also one of the biggest employers of labour, especially coming after the agricultural sector. Traders from Ghana, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire, among others, came to Nigeria to export the high-quality African print popularly known as Ankara. Apart from Kaduna Textile Mill, there were the United Nigeria Textiles, Enpee, Aswani and the Asaba Textile, among others, that held forte in the market then.
Indeed, identifying with operators, owners, employees and their relatives of those in the sector then could be likened to identifying with modern-day Nigerian politicians. They had influence in their neighbourhoods because their trade was booming.
Today, the once-flourishing industry has collapsed such that over 80 of the 100 textile industries that used to dot the major cities of Kano, Katsina, Lagos and other parts of the country no longer exist.
– Punch Newspaper; JUNE 25, 2015 : BUKOLA ADEBAYO
The debate about the origins and authenticity of ‘African print’ with its roots in Indonesia and Dutch trade are quite separate from the points raised by this article.
These industries should be allowed to thrive in order to contribute to the local economy, providing a substantial amount of jobs and by so doing, improving the lives of the average person.
The fabric I have for sale in my Fabric Store is sourced from African producers and manufacturers. This is because I think as African countries are the largest consumers of African fabric, the industries should be supported in these countries through import restrictions, clamping down on copyright infringements and so on. The Adire in stock is made by hand in Oshogbo in Osun state, Nigeria. The wax prints are mostly produced by NICHEM and Abada which are both Nigerian companies.
Doing the little we can at Urbanstax and hoping to see a turnaround very soon