A small business started by mother and daughter to empower women producing African traditional clothing is now flirting with the global market.
Ledikana was showcasing its work at the Source Africa Clothing and Textile Trade Fair, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Co-Director of the Johannesburg based company, Masechaba Mpetje, describes Ledikana as an African contemporary garments and accessory business strives to strike a balance between modern society and cultural clothing.
Ledikana’s brands include a label called Shweshwe which is derived from a fabric associated with the southern African ethnic group called Bashoeshoe and largely known through the great King Moshoeshe who ruled the modern day Lesotho. The Bashoeshoe fabric has become an international hit in a movement that forms part of a broader rise of African influence in international fashion trends. Other notable influences in this movement include the Xhosa traditional touch and the Basotho blanket.
Ledikane is obviously hoping to ride this wave. Mpetje is of the view that there are still huge opportunities in the local market. “Most people associate Shweshwe with special occasions but what we want to do is to change people’s perception about what Shweshwe is really about. It’s about modern everyday life.”
Ledikane notes that the company must first conquer South African market and then take on the world.
Mpetje further went on to say the reason she started the business with her mother was because they saw it as a need to uplift people living around them by basically bringing something different to them.
“We wanted to empower women from underprivileged communities who remain our main suppliers. We also try and train them by providing relevant skills to uplift their standard of living,” said Mpetje.
Ledikana was one of 10 companies that were exhibiting locally-made clothing and textile products, goods and merchandise at the Source Africa Clothing and Textile Trade Fair. These companies made to the fair through the sponsorship of the Department of Trade and Industry.
The principal objective of Source Africa Clothing and Textile Fair is to promote African-made textiles, clothing, footwear and fashion accessories to international and regional buyers as well as to boost intra-regional trade between African countries.