Sierra Leone’s fashion and textiles industry launches new national association

The Sierra Leone fashion and textiles industry continues to demonstrate its growing creative and economic significance, with the launch of the Fashion, Design and Textiles Association on 13 June 2024.

The launch event, which was hosted by the British High Commissioner, and supported by Invest Salone, the UK funded private sector development initiative, brought together the fashion and manufacturing industry, as well as public sector champions to hear the Association’s vision for the future of the industry.

The fashion and textiles sectors play an important role in the global economy. It is estimated to be worth US$2.5 trillion and employs over 75 million workers worldwide, most of whom are women. In sub-Saharan Africa, the market is currently valued at US$31 billion but is expected to grow by 4–5% annually by 2027 due to the increasing demand for African fashion and textiles. Although Sierra Leone’s fashion and textiles sector is small in comparison to regional heavy hitters like Nigeria and Ghana, there is significant potential for local brands to enhance their international competitiveness, leading to rapid economic gains.

British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Lisa Chesney MBE, said: “We are delighted to support the launch of the Fashion, Design, and Textiles Association. A vibrant and dynamic creative industry, centered around fashion and textiles, has the potential to unlock economic growth and create opportunities for all, while fostering the next generation of creative talent. This sector has proven itself to be an essential positive force for society, bringing joy, inspiration, and opportunity to our lives. This new national association marks a significant step towards amplifying Sierra Leone’s creative capabilities. The British High Commission proudly supports this initiative, underscoring our commitment to fostering innovation and growth. Let us seize this opportunity to celebrate and elevate Sierra Leone’s rich creative landscape.”

Frederica Williams, President of the Fashion, Design and Textiles Association, said that the Association was an opportunity to position Sierra Leonean fashion design and textiles as a creative force on the global fashion stage.

“Sierra Leone’s fashion, design and textiles has been making visible and sustainable progress. The launch of the Fashion, Design and Textiles Association demonstrates how much we have to offer – as creatives, innovators, employers and as a source of economic growth. We look forward to working collectively with our members, to shape the evolution of our industry both here and internationally.”

Avril Pratt, consultant with Invest Salone, congratulated the Association, saying: “From our work with the sector, especially at international events such as Africa Fashion Week London, we can say that Sierra Leone’s designers are punching above their weight. Recognising the sector’s significance, we are excited to support the Fashion, Design and Textiles Association, a first mover for the country, in its launch.”

She added that research conducted by Invest Salone and the Fashion, Design and Textiles Association had identified enhancing shipping services, developing skills, strengthening supply chains and promoting an enabling environment as priorities for the sector, and said that Invest Salone would continue its work with the Association to address related constraints to productivity.

As part of the launch event, industry representatives took part in a panel discussion on the sector’s opportunities and challenges and a pop-up exhibition featured the work of Sierra Leonean designers.

Find out more about Invest Salone’s work with the sector here.

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