There has been considerable success achieved by young Zimbabweans in the apparel and clothing area. Over many years, decades at least, many young Zimbabwean clothing manufacturing businesses and labels have come up and found popularity, success and of course money. The goal here is to run through some of the items that have brought success in clothing and apparel. As you will see success in this industry is largely concentrated among certain clothing items. These are perhaps largely influenced by popular culture and ease of entry.
We may as well start with the top item. This is not a Zimbabwean thing. People will often say that Zimbabwe is a strange place that is different from the rest of the world but in this regard, we certainly conform. T-shirt culture is understated and dates back to the emergence of statement t-shirts synonymous with the 1960s. It’s no understatement to say that many clothing and apparel manufacturers started with t-shirts. It is also an avenue that has been employed by people who are celebrated in other areas such as music and sport to venture into clothing or at the very least extend their brands. The other advantage of the t-shirt is that there is not much to it, one need only design the graphics rather than create the entire garment.
Jackets are really useful things when the weather takes a turn for the colder. We may joke about how Zimbabweans will run to their thickest jackets at the smallest sign of an overcast sky but it has made jackets a very popular clothing item in the country. So popular in fact that many in the business of clothing have found success with jackets. For the sake of simplicity, we can consider sweatshirts and hooded tops to be included amongst jackets. These items are only second to t-shirts in popularity and you will see them all over. Just like the t-shirt, many people are celebrated for other things that find this a good entry point into clothing. Jackets and sweaters have just as strong culture as t-shirts.
This is a surprising twist on what has historically been viewed as a mature age activity. Crocheting isn’t new, nor is making clothing through crocheted yarn. What you’ll find inspiring is the items being made out of crocheted yarn. Crop tops, halter tops, skirts, shorts and even bikinis are being made from yarn with some stunning results. I’ll give you that crocheted yarn sounds boring but once you get a look at some of the colours and combinations you will be truly amazed. So there’s no mystery to the success of these clothing items in the Zimbabwean market.
There’s a hat for every occasion. Well, there should be. People wear hats for many different reasons so you’re not likely to go wrong with hats. Sometimes worn for protection, function, fashion or just because you really can’t go wrong with hats. The most popular types of hats include caps, bucket hats and woollen hats. This is another one of those things that are not unique to Zimbabwe, hats are popular the world over. Types like caps and woollen hats are closely related to sportswear and also have a strong culture in clothing.
This could be the most Zimbabwean thing on the list but I would rather call it African. Weddings are big business anywhere in the world. I think we can agree that when it comes to clothing and bridal wear Africans have just taken it to another level. The large bridal teams, the Roora/Lobola (bride-price ceremony) squads which are also elaborately dressed and the sentimental value of nuptials have all contributed to making bridal wear a huge business opportunity for clothing makers. People are willing to part with quite a lot of money for these events so it is a market that rewards those who work in it.
These are the breakout markets for many clothing and apparel manufacturers in Zimbabwe. You’ll find others of course that also make good opportunities but these are the best entry points.