Ghana was the first African country to gain independence. A former British colony, it is located in West Africa, bordering Nigeria and Ivory Coast. It is the United States’ third largest trading partner in Africa, after Nigeria and South Africa. Its economy has grown substantially this decade as it implements reforms recommended by international financial bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Although the economy has seen strong improvements, the average person in Ghana earns the equivalent of $700 per year, substantially less than employees earn in Nigeria and South Africa.
Because of the low level of earnings the majority of the clothing market is comprised of used apparel.
Importers purchase bales of used clothing that have been donated to American and European charities, and resell the clothing at the retail level. The used clothing is sold at stalls in open markets similar to flea markets, and is exported to other less affluent African countries, such as Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Togo. The used clothing is distributed according to the local buying power, so relatively affluent areas will receive Grade A clothing, while other areas will receive Grade C clothing. Some clothing vendors will hire tailors to repair the lower grade clothing and resell it in their shops in better condition. Wholesalers will attract a following of resellers who meet them at the port when their cargo is unloaded. Because transactions are strictly conducted in cash, security and trust are two important rules in the trade.
While the used apparel category still represents a sizable portion of the total market, the middle class and upper class have a strong preference for new clothing. New fashions are imported from China, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. Imported new clothing ranges from generic clothing mass produced in Chinese factories to fashionable brands resold in exclusive boutiques. The middle and upper class enjoy Internet access and international travel and are therefore familiar with popular brand names.
A small percentage of the workforce in Ghana works in the oil sector, and require work and safety clothes.
Recently, the office sector has been developing, creating a demand for dress shirts, with a preference for Kenneth Cole.
In addition, the recent economic upswing has created a booming construction sector which needs professional work clothes, and as a consequence has increased the number of people who can afford to make discretionary apparel purchases.The market for homegrown fashion designers is not significant since most consumers prefer to purchase foreign brands.
Traditional wear is delineated by their location, people living in the North wear the Kente cloth while people living in the South wear a smock. Traditional wear is also dictated by the respective religion of the individual, seventy percent of the population are Christian, fifteen percent are Muslim, with the rest practicing other major religions including native faiths. Each religious group has its own festival clothing requirements, although most men and women wear similar clothing, influenced by their region, in their day to day lives.