Paper Title
Re-Engaging Traditional Fashion and Textile Design for Socio-Economic Development in East and Southern Africa

From unequal income distribution, lack of formal employment to poverty, poor education and healthcare systems, communities in various parts of the world face perilous challenges that underscore the need for creative ideas and solutions. The use of art can alleviate some of the challenges. Artists can shed light on the truth, offer excellent understanding in a far too general world as viewed through the lens of their creative products – the apparel (fashion or textile designed related crafts). A shift in the production of textile and apparel in China is due to cheap labor costs and use of appropriate technology for efficient productions and quick deliveries. Contrary to China’s success, Africa’s fashion and textile production is downhill due to lack of competitive advantage in the quality of materials, delivery time and pricing. Amidst these challenges, a few traditional fashion and textiles have survived the mayhem in the market. This paper analyses traditional fashion and textile crafts in a few selected African countries, and describes how culture plays a major role in the success of design. Designing new items (crafts) regularly attract customers and such practices have contributed to socio-economic development of the communities in the selected countries. Traditionally designed apparel and textile crafts such as the Masaai, the Ndebele, the Zulu and Turkana beadwork/jewelry and others have a large and growing sociological impact on East and Southern African people. This impact can also be seen on regional economic development; both through direct spending, and through the establishment and operation of the craft businesses that continue to thrive nonetheless.