I have been thinking about writing a post for a while about the fake shwe shwe brands that are imported from China and Pakistan and how this is ruining some of what makes shwe shwe so special.
For me one of the special things about shwe shwe and about this log is the individuality in all of the items that make them so special . Now mass produced fake shwe shwe dresses that look like a cross between something some South Africa and something from Northern Africa in the chinz and cotton takes away the beauty and individuality of the dresses.
Here is a great article on these fake imports- why they are of such inferior quality - all due to the indigo process - and its affects.
Nowadays, Da Gama registers its designs under various trademarks in each of the countries it trades. Each of its brands, including its most popular brand, Three Cats, is recognised by the logo etched on every roll of fabric.
"Da Gama is the only original shweshwe manufacturer — not just in this country, but in the world," said Anwar Vahed, sales manager of the company's home-sewing division.
But this heavily guarded bastion of local craftsmanship is under threat from cheap imports, which sell at about half the price of the original.
Vahed estimates that Da Gama has lost about 10% of its market to counterfeit shweshwe material imported from China and Pakistan since South Africa came out of isolation, and the company has had to dock its number of factory workers from 3 000 to 600 over the period.
Rees Mann, co-founder of Joburg's Fashion Kapitol noted the growing trend. "They copy their prints 100% and transfer it to polycotton material.
Just as apartheid destroyed the Afrocentricity in our fashion industry, so the Chinese are destroying what's left, which is shweshwe," said Mann. "It's virtually the theft of South African heritage."