South Africa’s Footwear & Leather Industry Set to Transform Through ILO & SAFLEC Initiatives

SAFLEC, supported by ILO, conducted workshops with Arsutoria and Edizioni AF to enhance South Africa's footwear and leather industry.
South Africa’s Footwear & Leather Industry Set to Transform Through ILO & SAFLEC Initiatives

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has partnered with the South African Footwear and Leather Export Council (SAFLEC) to host a series of design workshops aimed at revitalizing South Africa’s footwear and leather industry.

In collaboration with the eThekwini Footwear and Leather Cluster (EFLC), Edizioni AF, and ARSUTORIA School, these workshops offered participants hands-on training and personalized guidance on product quality, materials, and design innovations.

The workshops, which included a week-long session in Durban and a one-day bag workshop in Cape Town, trained nearly 50 participants from over 40 enterprises, with a notable 60 percent of participants being female.

The training focused on equipping these manufacturers with the latest insights into global fashion trends, empowering them to create competitive products aimed at catalyzing export growth and driving economic expansion. At the end of the sessions, scholarship opportunities were offered by ARSUTORIA School to two outstanding performers, fostering future leaders in the industry.

“Receiving this scholarship isn’t just about winning, it’s about the opportunities it unlocks and the dreams it will fulfill. It’s not only the recognition of past achievements and hard work but also a catalyst for the future.”

Dylan van Zyl, shoe design manager at Bata SA

This initiative aims to address productivity growth constraints and promote decent work in South Africa, focusing on the leather, leather goods, and footwear sectors. These sectors were chosen for their alignment with the government’s priority master plans and transformation agenda.

“Attending the SAFLEC Arsutoria workshop has been an informative and insightful experience. Immense gratitude to the ILO and Team SAFLEC. My selection as one of the candidates for the prestigious scholarship came as a most welcome surprise.”

Sophia Khan, marketing manager at Smiley’s Footwear

South Africa’s footwear and leather industry has long faced challenges in competing effectively in the global marketplace due to a significant design deficiency. This gap has stifled innovation and limited the industry’s capacity to meet the evolving demands of international consumers. SAFLEC’s training sessions aim to bridge this divide by providing manufacturers with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete on a global scale.

Edizioni AF and ARSUTORIA School, with their extensive experience in delivering specialized training services globally, particularly in leather products and footwear, offer a transformative solution. Founded in 1947, these institutions bring decades of expertise in understanding global trends, especially in handbags and footwear, guiding South African manufacturers toward international competitiveness.

In conclusion, the collaborative efforts of the ILO, SAFLEC, EFLC, Edizioni AF, and ARSUTORIA School represent a significant step towards revitalizing South Africa’s footwear and leather industry. By providing comprehensive training and development opportunities, these organizations are not only fostering business growth and economic prosperity but also empowering a new generation of designers to compete on the global stage. The future of South Africa’s footwear and leather sector looks promising, with these initiatives paving the way for innovation and competitiveness.

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