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Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Feedback: Textiles: Patricia Thomas, US

 This is in response to the article in the Wall Street Journal about theft of designs in the Ghanaian textile market. There was a comment at the end, that Ms. Salter would like to put Printex Ltd. textiles for sale on the Internet, but that Mr. Millet of Printex fears the potential for theft of copyrighted patterns. My husband and I would like to comment on this:

My husband and I lived in Ghana for several years--we have always loved the textiles produced in Ghana. However, the problem of stealing patterns and making cheap rip-offs has been there since forever. In the old days, it was poor-quality Ghanaian textile firms stealing Manchester and Java designs! Only now it is Ivory Coast, Korea, India stealing from Ghana. This is a sign of the high quality of the Ghanaian product. It pains me to see cheap printed "Kente" from Korea sold in American chain fabric stores, where people will never know the real thing.    

We were in Ghana last March, and we were delighted to see so many excellent fabrics made in Ghana. Ghanaian textiles are so excellent these days, I did not need to buy any cloth from any other countries. It was also very easy to spot the poor-quality rip-offs in the market.   Over the Internet, I can see why Mr. Milad Millet does not want to expose his textiles to immediate theft. However, we wonder if it might be possible to offer only those patterns that have already been copied and thus undermined by the foreign forgers.

If Printex Ltd. has piles of cloth that no longer sell in the Ghanaian market because of the influx of cheap imitations, then they need an efficient and easy way to sell them in a totally new market. I would guess that Internet sales are mainly to customers outside of Ghana, where market-driven pattern popularity would not be an issue. The quality of the textiles would be guaranteed to the Internet customer, as it would be cloth coming directly from the manufacturer; the proven popularity of the design (by virtue of having been stolen) could even be a marketing point! To me, outside of the Ghanaian fashion scene, the fact that a pattern is 3 or 6 month out of date doesn't matter at all. After all, I am still sewing the 12-yard pieces I brought home in 1977!

To be able to get real Ghanaian textiles right now would be fantastic.   I plan to mail everyone I know about your web site. What a great resource! Best wishes.

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