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Picture from Gikomba Market. Photography by Paul Cox.

By the full-length research of the GSVC, the China Fashion Power project aims to positively impact economic and cultural development as well as the natural environment in the Global South.

(1) Creative Economy: The Western-centric notion of creativity systematically misunderstands, excludes and undervalues non-Western concepts of creativity, and thus undermines the abilities of those creators involved in the GSVC and confines the sustainable growth of creative industries in the Global South. By demonstrating how conceptions and values regarding everyday fashion are produced, shaped, and consumed in divergent ways by Chinese and African creative organisations, industry workers and consumers, the project will reveal the power dynamics in the GSVCand in what ways and why non-Western creativity is (under)recognised. Our findings will inform the Kenyan and Mozambican governments to develop appropriate long-term policies to nurture local creative industries, stimulate their economies, and fairly share economic benefits in the GSVC, and creative enterprises in the GSVC to adopt different strategies to optimise their business performance in the short term and create quality jobs for industry workers in the long term.

(2) Re-articulation of Authenticity in the Global South: The hegemonic definition of authenticity of the Global North undervalues ordinary fashion products in the GSVC. By challenging the Western-centric notion of authenticity, the project helps creative workers, traders, and consumers in the Global South to transcend these notions and to explore contextual notions of authenticity such as “copy-ativity.” The re-articulation of authenticity will mobilise creators of the Global South to integrate local cultures and techniques as well as the needs and values of their consumers into their creative practices.

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(3) The Environment: Everyday consumption of ordinary fashion products raises concerns of the detrimental impact of consumerism to natural environments, in this case, of China and African countries. The rising consumerism, nonetheless, can only be understood, and critiqued, by rethinking the agency of African fashion consumers on one hand, and by unpacking the interactions among production, trade, and marketplace along the GSVC on the other. The research findings will inform policymakers about potential approaches to improving resource efficiency in South-South supply chains to minimise environmental degradation and how to raise consumers’ awareness of sustainability and embed it into their daily consumption.

Table 1: Conceptual framework along the China-Africa value chains


Table 2: Overview of 4 subprojects

* Postdoc 1 and PhD 1 will spend the 10+2 months of fieldwork in the same site (Guangdong), while Postdoc 2 and PhD 2 will split their fieldwork time between Nairobi and Maputo (5+1 months each). Additionally, the China team will join the follow-up fieldwork in Nairobi (1 month) and Maputo (1 month) and the Africa team will join the follow-up fieldwork in Guangdong for 1 month.

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