NEWSLETTER ISSUE NO 1 – October 2023

8 October 2023

From the Desk of Executive
Director, Nerisha Jairaj

Greetings, honoured members, as our focus continues in fostering growth, innovation, and global competitiveness. Together, let’s navigate the export landscape and drive our industry to new heights. Read below for exciting updates and collaborative opportunities.

Best regards,
Nerisha Jairaj Executive Director, SAFLEC

Table of Content

Topic 1:

APLF Asian returned to the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC) on October 25-27, 2023, bringing together exciting suppliers, designers, buyers, and industry experts under one roof as a gala that merges the leather community all in one. An optimistic view from APLF Director, Grace Lee about the growth potential of the regional leather industry set a healthy tone for the start of the trade fair. Many exciting workshops, design-a-bag activities, lectures and talks from regional and international experts were part of the events that led to new learnings for global attendees.

Two renowned leather professionals from the UK – Mr. Karl Flowers, a leather technical consultant, and Mr. Yusuf Osman, designer, and maker of YUSSICO conducted two courses, which offer an immersive journey that combines the technical and the practical, helping attendees confidently choose the right leather for their collections while clarifying leather’s sustainable credentials and dispelling common myths.

Topic 2:
Productivity SA & ILO Capacity

Productivity SA, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the eThekwini cluster, has embarked on a transformative initiative to empower participants within the footwear industry. This program aims to not only bolster operational efficiency but also foster the development of essential capabilities for successfully entering and thriving in diverse markets.

The enthusiasm surrounding this initiative is evident, with the participation of five dynamic medium-sized companies and the commitment of two prominent larger firms. The diverse composition of the enrolled entities adds a richness to the program, fostering an environment of shared knowledge and experiences.
The establishment of stakeholder relationships, spearheaded by SAFLEC a few years ago, reflects a visionary approach. These relationships have proven instrumental in supporting companies on their journey to elevate capabilities, with a clear emphasis on expanding their export potential. The collaborative efforts between SAFLEC and EFLC in leveraging shared resources further underscore the spirit of unity and cooperation.

Overall, this initiative not only signifies a commitment to industry growth but also exemplifies the positive impact that collaborative programs can have on enhancing the overall landscape of the footwear industry. The involvement of key players and the groundwork laid by SAFLEC serve as a testament to the industry’s resilience and its dedication to continuous improvement and success.

Topic 3:

5-Part Webinar by USA Expert on Trade Shows

In a recent 5-part webinar series led by a USA expert, Kim Carraige. SAFLEC demonstrated its commitment to empowering its members with essential insights for successful trade show participation. Covering topics such as product design, marketing strategies, and post-event follow-up, SAFLEC aimed to equip its members with the knowledge necessary to elevate their capabilities and thrive in the global market.

The initiative to bring this information to SAFLEC members stems from a strategic vision to enhance the export potential of the South African footwear and leather goods industry. By providing insights into product design and effective marketing, SAFLEC aims to enable its members to not only compete internationally but also to establish a stronger foothold in trade shows. The reasoning behind this initiative lies in the belief that an informed and skilled industry is better positioned to contribute to the growth of the national economy through increased exports. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement and sharing valuable expertise, SAFLEC ensures that its members are well-prepared to navigate the complexities of global trade and make a substantial impact in positioning South Africa on an international stage.

Shifts in Legislation that Impacts Exporter by Clearline Consulting

EFLC recently collaborated with Clearline Consulting to host a webinar on “Shifts in Customs Legislation for Exporters” on October 20th. This informative session covered critical topics such as insights into the anticipated New Customs Control Act, AEO Accreditation benefits, mandatory SARS Onboarding, and Advanced Payment Notifications for importers. The participation of 25 members underscored a shared eagerness to stay informed about evolving customs legislation.

Understanding the intricacies of customs legislation is pivotal for businesses, directly influencing their operations and compliance in the global market. The webinar not only provided valuable insights but also emphasized the importance of continuous learning to navigate customs regulations effectively. Staying current with customs legislation is strategic for exporters and importers, allowing proactive adaptation to challenges and capitalization on opportunities.

This initiative aligns with EFLC’s commitment to empowering its members with knowledge essential for navigating the ever-changing international trade landscape. By providing such insights, SAFLEC aims to arm its members with the tools and understanding needed to not only meet regulatory requirements but also to thrive and expand their presence in the global market. This proactive approach reflects SAFLEC’s dedication to the growth and success of its members in an increasingly dynamic and competitive trade environment.

Sustainability in Design by Fashion Revolution

On the 26th of October, the cluster organized a sustainability in design webinar, led by Cyril Naicker from Fashion Revolution, a seasoned sustainability consultant and international fashion expert with over two decades of experience. The webinar focused on the essential pillars for attaining green economy objectives. Ten participants actively engaged in the session, indicating a strong interest in sustainability practices. Emphasizing sustainability in design is vital for several reasons. Firstly, it aligns with global trends and consumer preferences, fostering market competitiveness. Secondly, incorporating sustainable practices enhances a company’s reputation, attracting environmentally conscious consumers. Thirdly, sustainable design not only reduces environmental impact but also optimizes resource efficiency, contributing to long-term cost savings. Overall, embracing sustainability is not just an ethical choice but a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to grow exports in a conscious and environmentally responsible manner.

Topic 4:
WORLD NEWS (Articles without prejudice)

Portuguese Footwear

Renowned for its superior craftsmanship and innovative designs, the Portuguese footwear industry stands as a coveted market for fashion enthusiasts. In conclusion, this industry has shifted its focus towards the production of high-quality shoes while also making substantial investments in sustainable solutions. With remarkable growth in recent years, the industry has honed its attention on international markets, with over 95% of its production being exported. Since China’s inclusion in the WTO, the industry recognized the need to transition from low-value, high-volume production to the creation of high-value, quality footwear. Establishing ten-year strategic plans since 1970 has been a cornerstone of the industry’s progress. In a statement, Joanna of Appicaps emphasized that success wasn’t an overnight achievement, highlighting the time investment required for exports. She credited the collaborative efforts of stakeholders for this triumph. Currently boasting over 1000 factories and employing over 40,000 workers, the Portuguese footwear industry continues to thrive on its commitment to excellence and strategic evolution.

Ethiopian Footwear

Since 2019, the United States has experienced a notable decrease in footwear imports from Ethiopia, witnessing a 29% drop in 2019 to $24.7 million (equivalent to 1.8 million pairs). This decline further intensified in 2020, plunging by an additional 48% to $12.8 million (1.0 million pairs). Consequently, Ethiopia’s standing as a U.S. footwear supplier plummeted to 22, reflecting a global trend of diminishing exports. This decline in the trade relationship between the United States and Ethiopia can be traced back to labour-related challenges within Ethiopia. Specifically, labour strikes in the Addis Ababa area in 2019 prompted foreign manufacturers to cease production or reduce their workforce. This trend has significantly impacted the once-thriving footwear trade, highlighting the critical role of stable labour conditions in sustaining international business partnerships. Notably, recent developments include a large US retailer, a notable player in the industry, withdrawing from production in Ethiopia. This decision further underscores the challenges faced by foreign manufacturers in maintaining a stable and productive operational environment in the region. As the industry grapples with these dynamics, it becomes imperative to address labour-related concerns to restore and strengthen Ethiopia’s position in the global footwear trade landscape.

Topic 5:

Our social media platforms have been hitting record-breaking hits. Our recent campaign obtained over 14,800,000 impressions and over 540,000 engagements, boosted to followers in the rest of Africa, Europe, Middle East, and North America. We encourage you to take advantage of our efforts to promote you. Send us content to push your company and brands. Also like, follow, and forward our links to your contact lists. Let us build the following globally so that we can show the world our capability.

Instagram: @saflec_team
Youtube: SAFLEC 

Topic 6:

IATF – Egypt
09 – 15 November 2023

Gift & Lifestyle Middle East – Dubai
21 -23 November 2023

Footwear & Leather Australia
21 -23 November 2023

28 – 30 November 2023

As we move forward, we recognize the importance of re-learning and adapting to global needs, demands, and challenges while embracing new strategies to thrive in the post-covid era.