Lesotho is a country paving a new path for development, one that successfully takes into account social as well as economic factors. With duty and quota free access to regional and global markets, the successful development of its apparel and textile industry and an upcoming branding initiative to make 'Made in Lesotho' a global trademark, Lesotho is fast becoming an African investment destination of choice, while still maintaining fair and ethical labour standards.
Lesotho garment firms specialise in the production of denim garments (mainly jeans and garments made from cotton knit fabrics, such as t-shirts and leisure wear). It is estimated that Lesotho's 42 apparel firms each year make 90 million knitted garments, 26 million pairs of jeans per year! The Formosa denim mill uses African cotton to make a minimum of 6,300 tons of denim fabric a year, and about 10,800 tons of cotton (and cotton blends) yarns which is suitable to make knit fabrics.
The industry is now the largest formal sector employer in the country, employing more than 38,000 people.
Lesotho continues to remain the largest sub-saharan exporter of garments to the USA, with an estimated 85% of total exports going there. Purchasers of Lesotho's garments include well known brands such as: GAP, Reebok, Levi Strauss, Ralph Lauren, Walmart, Calvin Klein Jeanswear and J.C. Penney, amongst others.
The Edun clothing line, a socially conscious clothing company created by Ali Hewson, Bono and New York clothing designer, Rogan Gregory, operates in Lesotho. Hewson's goal is to build a business that makes beautiful clothing in developing countries, giving sustainable employment and providing trade potential.
A good news story for consumers in Ireland is that denim products manufactured in Lesotho are now on the shelves in Penneys (Primark) stores in Ireland. Check out the shelves the next time you are shopping there.
Please click here for a concise listing of Lesotho Manufacturing Companies.