Sourcing at MAGIC Shines a Light on Africa
The 56 booths in the African pavilion were filled with bright bursts of color where countries such as Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia displayed their various products.
At the Alfie Designs booth, Adja Dede from Ghana was wearing a colorful turquoise dress punctuated with large orange swirls. She displayed some of the company’s vividly designed skirts and other clothing she was showing in the West Africa Trade & Investment Hub section.
This was Alfie Designs’ first visit to Sourcing at MAGIC as part of the African pavilion. Her trip was partly sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, a government organization that provides foreign assistance to end poverty.
Dede is on a mission to find more customers for her family’s business, which was started in 1990 by her mother, Afi Agbenyega Nyarko. The company now employs 93 people in a factory that churns out all sorts of African-centric clothing. The company also gives free lessons to teach young women how to sew. “We are trying to get more opportunity for our workers so they have full-time employment,” Dede said. “We have gotten some good leads and we will finish up with emails.”
Dede said many people were surprised that products from certain African countries, such as Ghana, enter the United States duty free under the African Growth Opportunity Act. That is a bonus for the factory, where the wholesale price of a dress is $10 to $15.
While Africa had a bigger presence this year than last year, China commanded the most exhibition space, taking up more than 60 percent of the booths. Donghui Lu of Only Star Trading in Ningbo was one of those in the Chinese section, which was divided up by categories. In the past, Only Star Trading, whose dresses wholesale for $5 to $15, had done production for Forever 21.
Lu had seen buyers from a Canadian retail chain called Ardène and from Whispers Fashions NY, a juniors line that produces trend-driven products. “We have some potential clients,” Lu said.
In the Made in USA section, Akay Shiraze hung a huge American flag in his booth to advertise that his selection of T-shirts, activewear, leggings and other goods are made in Los Angeles. As the president of Made Here USA, he has been coming to the show for the past six years.
He believes traffic at the Sourcing show has declined ever since the event moved a few years ago from the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center to the North Hall. “The attendance keeps dropping every year, but I only need two good clients to make the show work,” he said.