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Thursday, 05 September 2013

New skills help young people enter South Sudanese clothing market

The traditional clothes market in South Sudan may at first glance appear slightly monotonous, but a group of young, creative people are adding fashionable elements to make sure this changes.

“We believe in training young people to help them acquire creative skills to design and fabricate marketable fashion,” says Ammar Al-Kital, Chief Technical Advisor of the UNIDO project in Juba.

“By doing so, we are supporting the Government of South Sudan in its efforts to secure peace, reduce poverty and foster sustainable social and economic development.”

The UNIDO project, “Integration and progress through protection and empowerment of displaced groups in South Sudan” is funded by the Government of Japan.

“Helping develop a marketable fashion with cultural identity is a follow-up course on basic industrial skills provided by the project, such as tailoring, carpentry, welding and construction,” says Al-Kital. “We have been encouraging the young ‘fashion designers’ to blend the country’s rich culture into their designs. One can now see a range of elements typical of South Sudan’s traditional culture incorporated into the designs.”

To-date, three product design workshops have taken place. They featured invited designers, artists and professors.

Participants were trained to use sewing machines, and learnt that even elements of waste like plastic bags, old textiles and paper could be used to produce original works.

Lidwina Dox, an expert in product design, who was also one of the trainers, said that she was surprised by how fast the young people developed their skills. "In the beginning, some participants did not even sew evenly and had to redo their work several times. However, they improved their skills very fast and the quality improved over time. People were highly motivated and they enjoyed the good working atmosphere. They also saw that their work was appreciated and in demand.”

Equipped with acquired creative skills in textile design and starter kits that include a sewing machine and materials, participants now have the necessary start-up elements that can help them grow their own businesses.

Posted September 2013