Tunis: First Fashion Show to Combat Flagging Industry

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Tunis: First Fashion Show to Combat Flagging Industry
Sat 13-04-2013

Designers and experts from Tunisia's embattled textile sector studied ideas to revive a flagging industry.

"Our main goal is to enhance the sector's image and offer a welcoming place for people to swap ideas on how to start partnerships ... and encourage new creative talent," said Samir Ben Abdallah, organizer of last week's festival.

Tunisian designers showcased their designs in front of international industry experts, artists and fashion addicts.

But in the conference halls, talk turned to the economy, as the Tunisian textile and clothing sector has been badly hit by the financial crisis sweeping its main clients, notably France.

Combined with the climate of insecurity that followed Tunisia's January 2011 revolution, foreign investors have proved reluctant to plough fresh funds into the country.

Around 70 Tunisian textiles firms have had to shut their doors since the revolution, he said.

The industry's current structure has added fresh challenges, with Tunisia failing to keep up with changes in the sector, such as cheaper labour costs in other countries and fluctuations in demand from Europe.

"The industry in Tunisia is in a very fragile state today. Its main handicap is its dependence on exports and its main clients who have undergone have upheavals," said Francois-Marie Grau of France's clothing industry union.

"This festival is a chance for young talent to come out of the shadows and to express themselves and show off their vision," he told AFP, dressed in an outfit inspired by a Coca Cola bottle: red trousers, leather jacket, studded shoes and a James Dean-style hairstyle.

"In Tunisia there is beauty, fashion, creativity, joie de vivre and hope, not just social and political problems and economic woes," insisted Naziha Nemri, artistic and technical director of the fashion show.