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Every year, Portugal's exports amount to over 7 billion, regarding textiles and clothing, shoes and jewellery. "Portugal has the largest textile cluster in Europe," says Mário Jorge Machado, chairman of the ATP (Portuguese Textile and Clothing Association). "We are talking about an industry that has become one of the main exporters on a nationwide level," explained Machado, in a cluster that extends over municipalities such as Fafe, Guimarães, Barcelos, Santo Tirso, Trofa and Porto.
"We have managed to overcome several challenges to our competitiveness and came out more resilient, a trait that is so intrinsic to the DNA of national fashion", states César Araújo. According to the chairman of ANIVEC (National Association of Clothing and Apparel Industry), "the textile and clothing ecosystem in Portugal is unique: we are the epitome of local sourcing, from spinning to the distribution of the finished garment. When a brand comes to Portugal - he continued - we find solutions for all types of products, a wide range of raw materials, cutting-edge finishes and unique expertise in terms of quality, materials and the finished product".
César Araújo recalls, "alongside the solutions delivered by the national supply chain and the seal of quality recognised worldwide that it represents, there is a growing capacity regarding our infrastructure and technology, as well as investments in more sustainable solutions that allow our industries to be at the forefront of the market".
Furthermore, the chairman of ANIVEC believes that "Portugal no longer plays a secondary role, but plays a leading role in the evolution of the textile and clothing industry in Europe. In addition, companies are investing heavily in its promotion as vehicles for the country's socio-economic development, with an impact on issues as fundamental as work ethics, the dignity of workers and the strong contribution to the development of certain regions of the country, levelling up the gap for less privileged generations, especially regarding gender equality, and thus paving the way for certain minorities, bringing about unique opportunities and dynamics".
Shoes are an example
Consisting of 1,500 companies, responsbile for 40,000 thousand jobs, the footwear sector is also an exemple. "We export over 70 million pairs of shoes to 170 countries on five continents yearly", says Luís Onofre. For the Chairman of APICCAPS (Portuguese Footwear, Components, Leather Goods Manufacturers' Association), “the accumulated know-how over generations associated with large investments in the technological area, make Portugal a reference player at an International level. We produce excelente footwear, at a fair price”, he admits.
Over the next three years, the Portuguese footwear sector will invest 140 million euros. “We want to make Portuguese industry a leading name in the development of sustainable solutions at the international level", stresses the chairman of APICCAPS, Luís Onofre.
Portuguese jewellery crossing oceans
"Our jewellery is the result of a centuries-old heritage of generations dedicated to the art of jewellery making and attention to detail”, reveals Fátima Santos. The Head Secretary of AORP (Portuguese Jewellery and Watchmaking Association) reminds that “Portuguese brands bring together the expertise and new contemporary design concepts, closer to new consumer and fashion standards - a crossroads between past and present in which the future lies. Technique as well as artistry is what makes it so unique”.
The sector is based in an “industry, which is oriented towards production for third parties, is now known for its quality, flexibility and reactivity”, combining “technology with innovation, bringing a very Portuguese character that makes us competitive at an international level: our responsiveness, our commitment to deadlines and our flexibility to adapt to smaller-scale and more exclusive productions, which is what international brands are currently looking for". As for brands, "we have a new generation of designers and entrepreneurs who are inspired by our heritage and bring a new contemporary vision of the product, business and communication, opening up new avenues and new audiences on a global scale".