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Lesson #64 - Why I Love the Garment Industry

Posted by Maryam Garba on

When people ask me how 'business' is going?', I'll be the first to admit that the business of fashion is hard. Between designing winning styles, and marketing and selling them profitably, this is a hard industry. The garment industry also gets a bad rap for supporting sweat shops and underpaid workers.

However, my trip to China reminded me of all that is amazing about the fashion and garment industry. I visited the factory where my clothes were made and met the 60+ middle-aged people who worked there. Many of them greeted me with a cheerful 'Nee Hao!'. One of them said to me, 'I wish you success so we can all come up together.' I had a very similar experience as well when I visited the factory's showroom and sales office in downtown Guangzhou. There, I saw dozens of well-dressed, twenty-something year olds employed in savvy roles like online sales, social media marketing and digital design. As I sat with different teams and we discussed my next collection, my excitement knew no bounds because I knew that what we were creating in Guangzhou was going to touch people around the world.

Fashion is hard, but for a designer like myself, fashion is about creating products that transform people's lives on a personal level. For a garment factory worker, every garment produced is a job created, a family sustained, an economy prospered and a nation preserved. For a happy customer, every garment purchased is confidence rekindled and excitement reborn. This isn't an industry that is just about clothes, this is an industry about people.

Going to China has helped me realize that I'm in love. Im in love with the fashion industry. I'm in love with the products we make, the customers we serve and the jobs we create. I've fallen deeply in love with fashion industry because it has given me the opportunity to serve billions of people around the world and to create millions of jobs while I do so.

Thank you Guangzhou.

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  • Hi Thinker! Thank you so much for leaving such a thoughtful post and please forgive my delayed response. I absolutely agree with you that manufacturing can happen on the continent. As a matter of fact, Maryam Garba International is currently investing in that effort today because we believe that a core part of manufacturing in the future will happen on the African continent. Thank you so much for a very insightful comment to my post! I really appreciate it!

    Maryam on

  • Hello Maryam,

    I love hearing your stories! I’m also hoping to go to China soon.

    I was wondering though, your clothes are mostly african-inspired, most of your clients are african and you live in Africa… it not possible to manufacture in the continent?

    I for one am inspired by the growth our fashion industry has experienced in the past few years. Is manufacturing in Nigeria not a meaningful story to tell? Sentiments are changing pretty fast and as much as we all know that even the greatest brands produce in China, they never started off this way, and their brand names became quite significant before they started manufacturing abroad.

    I think there are expectations from people starting small to try and support the system they sell to, just as you would hope for the system supported you over foreign designers. Now I’m not saying you should produce in Nigeria as I know the infrastructure challenges that are inherent, the poor staff quality and the limited fabric selection that exists….like I said I too have plans of jetting to China soon for manufacturing related reasons (for some finished products, but mainly for intermediate products that will be assembled in Nigeria)….but I feel that you should manage the story and message you pass off, as they can significantly alter perception and loyalty at an early stage. You don’t want to be judged as out of touch with the reality on ground….which is that there are a good number of outstanding fashion brands which manufacture in Nigeria and are thriving (mostly for custom clothes as opposed to off the rack which is what you do)….so why can’t you do the same?

    Thinker on

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