Africa Made Only, More than just a clothing line
Africa Made Only came to life in 2018 with the core belief that everything that can be made here, in Africa, should be.
Africa Made Only has a ruthless passion for supporting local and spreading the word of the benefits of doing such, believing that how and where their products are made benefits the community that makes them. A community conscious brand that is passionate about sharing their knowledge, successes, and failures.
“Everyone speaks of how they have succeeded, but no one talks about their failures! That is what I want to hear, where have people failed because that is where you learn”
...exclaims CEO Ryan Amory from Africa Made Only. Africa Made Only is more than just a clothing brand. They partner with local creators, search for locally made fabric and finishes. Producing world-class clothing that is entirely Africa Made Only.
“We create, curate and sell authentic fashion online which is made in South Africa”.
Two and a half years ago, Ryan met a young tailor in Cape Town named Tshepo, while still working in the career of advertising. “I always loved the feel and texture of Shweshwe”, states Ryan. Shweshwe is a local fabric made in the Eastern Cape of SA. It is a thick cotton fabric that is defined by pulsating colours, a light sheen, and repetitive patterns. After striking a friendship with the young tailor, Ryan started with a range of clothes just for himself. Using the streets of Cape Town as his catwalk, the demand for this comfortable and stylish clothing grew through informal conversation with people. In July of 2018, Africa Made Only placed their footprint into the clothing industry with their launch. Africa Made Only became an online entity that promotes local creation and acts as a sales driver for local clothing artists.
Africa Made Only draws inspiration from their locally sourced fabric, like Sheshwe, and various wax prints sourced around Africa. We aim to find ways to make them comfortable & unique at the same time. The process behind creating our products is simple.
How is Africa Made Only clothes different?
“Along with the locally produced Sheshwe, we also use wax prints from all over the continent. We aim to find ways to make them simultaneously comfortable and unique. We soften and shrink wash our fabrics before make-up to guarantee our clothes fit for life. Our product range is cut to have zero waste on our fabrics. We produce shorts, hoodies, windbreakers, T-shirts, kids shorts, hats, masks, and even scrunchies from the same fabric. What’s left of our fabric is hand quilted to create bespoke limited-edition garments like our Patch Patch Windbreaker. The quilting process itself can take up to 2 weeks, but no fabric is left behind, and that's a win for everyone!”
How is Africa Made Only more?
While having their own clothing line, Africa Made Only allows local clothing designers to manufacture their designs at ‘The Makers Cottage’. They provide a safe, affordable, and driven environment for up and coming clothing artists. Doing away with the large minimum runs that small start-up SME’s cannot afford. Africa Made Only can produce anything from 10 units to 1000 units, finding themselves in a niche that enables them to support small start-ups. They teach those that are eager to hear about their mistakes and their successes, providing much-needed guidance for those new to the clothing industry, navigating them to their success.
What is ‘The Makers Cottage’
Set in Wynberg, ‘The Makers Cottage’ is a cooperative space for retrenched textile and garment makers. The majority of those that work for them are women that hail from Khayelitsha and Bishop Lavis. “The idea was to create a space that enables them to earn in the CoOp until they regain permanent employment. The newly employed are then replaced by someone else, with the same skill”. Dubbing it ‘The Makers Cottage’ it allows for a symbiotic relationship to develop between the skill sets of a CMT service, skilled labour force, and a retail/wholesale service. This allows the machines to keep working and the women earning. “In order for the model to work, it is crucial that production keeps going”, says Ryan.
Going from the advertising sphere to an online clothing store is a big jump, how did you do it?
“I saw how Tshepo directly benefited from the relationship, and so I decided to enlist in a course through Insaka e-commerce academy to learn how to build your own online store. We built it in 10 weeks, and we were live with Africa Made Only 4 months later. I decided to leave advertising after 14 years in the industry to pursue the Africa Made Only dream.”
What are your superpowers?
“I wouldn't say I have a superpower, but I am more the conduit for other superpowers by being a connector of like-minded people. I come from a traditional advertising background and found my purpose when I worked with local brands like Hollard, Wimpy, and Allan Gray.”
What do you love about Africa?
“Our people and our ability to be resilient in any situation, to face any challenge, and to make a plan. To laugh, or make each other laugh, while we do it. We have this innate ability to make light of the most serious situations as a coping mechanism for our shared reality. It's our way of saying to each other that "you are not alone", and together we will find a way to succeed.”
What made you take the step into the unknown to become an entrepreneur?
“There is no better feeling than waking up in the morning, knowing you are enabling and driving the local economy, and in so doing, supporting your family. Putting purpose at the heart of what you are doing is the best way to know if you are making the right decisions. Making sure that everything that can be made here should be made here is our purpose, and I live it each day. That is what's driving our growth. We plan to increase our product range, add other entrepreneurs to our platform, and keep working to reinvigorate local brand purchase behaviour.”