Models show off Kenyan designs. [Photo/]

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Ethiopia and Kenya have emerged as favourite locations for multinational global fashion brands who want to diversify away from countries such as Bangladesh, one of the largest exporters of textiles.

To reduce their over-reliance on Asia-based manufacturers, the global fashion brands are looking to Africa in order to source more of their clothing items.

Kenya’s export processing zones (EPZ) profile keeps rising following the signing of production contracts with local textile manufacturers by top global fashion brands such as Calvin Klein, Izod, Arrow and Cherokee among others.

According to officials of the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), local production of international brands is expected to boost exports in the textile industry whose earnings and production has dropped significantly from its peak In the 1980s.

African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation statistics show that the local textile industry peaked in 1984 with 52 mills as compared to 21 mills currently operating at half capacity.

Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) started local production in 2014 at Ashton Apparel while a new EPZ firm, Hela Clothing will

manufacture Calvin Klein underwear brand. The company is in the process of expanding in what will see it double its workforce from the current  1,500 workers.

New Wide Garments with its current 7,000 workers manufactures the  Arrow and Izod labels while Global EPZ has 1,500 workers who manufacture the Cherokee brand.