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To begin with, the expertise amassed over the years allows the sector to develop noteworthy collections. In the fashion industry, the country has over 10,000 companies, employing 150,000 people. Every year, Portugal exports more than EUR 7 billion worth of textiles and clothing, shoes, and jewellery. Another relevant aspect is safety. According to Forbes magazine, Portugal is one of the 20 safest countries in the world to do business.
Third point. The country is investing in its future, demonstrating a steady financial acumen. The textile and clothing sector will invest more than EUR 100 million over the next three years to establish itself as a leading player in the field of sustainable development.
Portugal’s strategic geolocation is a key competitive factor that makes the Portuguese industry stand out, allowing products to be quickly shipped to Central Europe by land and air. Our vast Atlantic coastline puts us in a privileged position for cross-border trade.
Moreover, Portugal has the largest textile cluster in Europe. Indeed, about 80% of the companies in this sector are based within a 50-km radius of the city of Porto, in towns such as Barcelos, Famalicão, Fafe, Guimarães, Santo Tirso, and Trofa.
Finally, Portugal is now one of the desirable destinations, not only for doing business but also for visiting, especially for those who love the sea. Its rich cuisine and excellent wines are also very popular. Most recently, the city of Porto was voted the World’s Best Destination City 2022 at the World Travel Awards ceremony held in Muscat, Oman.
The voice of experience
According to the president of the National Association of the Clothing and Apparel Industries (Associação Nacional das Indústrias de Vestuário e Confeção - ANIVEC), “Portuguese industry has exceeded even the most optimistic expectations”, as it “has withstood several challenges to its competitiveness, reinforcing resilience, a characteristic so intrinsic to the DNA of Portuguese fashion”.
César Araújo considers that “the textile and clothing environment in Portugal is unique: within a radius of a few hundred kilometres, we bring together all elements of the supply chain. We are a true example of local sourcing, from spinning to the distribution of the finished piece.” “When a brand comes to Portugal, it finds solutions for all types of products, a wide range of raw materials, trendy finishes and unique expertise in terms of quality standards, both in the material and in the finished product,” he highlights.
For the president of ANIVEC, “next to the solutions offered by the national supply chain and the globally recognised seal of quality, heavy investment in terms of infrastructure and technology, as well as in more sustainable solutions allow our industries to be at the forefront of the fashion market”. Hence, “Portugal no longer plays a supporting role. We have taken on a leading role in the evolution of textiles and clothing in Europe”.
If Europe “is a leader in the fashion segment worldwide, Portugal can and should be a leading name in the production of responsible fashion”, he argues, as “the Made in Portugal label already represents much more than quality. We are efficient and innovative in the services we provide”.
Portuguese industry, according to César Araújo, “has solutions for every stage of the supply chain, and we complement each other, going even further. Technology centres, universities, and entrepreneurs are allies in the search for new raw materials and production methods that are more sustainable and consume fewer resources. There is a strong investment in a circular economy, focused on waste collection and upcycling clothes”. After all, “we are very versatile and competitive, either because of our geostrategic position, which allows us to operate simultaneously in the US and European markets, or because of the added value of our services”.
The Textile and Clothing industry “is also making great strides towards digitisation and automation, and we are trailblazers in the balance we have created between craftsmanship and high technology”. “Our ecosystem is based on social sustainability and environmental sustainability, which are inseparable, a recipe that not all players in the fashion industries are able to perform. As this is a highly sought-after market, it is safe to say that we have a unique competitive advantage,” he concludes.
In the opinion of Mário Jorge Machado, there are several critical points that distinguish the Portuguese industry. Firstly, "the quality of our products", secondly, "the capacity for innovation" and "the sustainability factor", and finally, "and above all the service and our reliability".
According to the President of the Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal (Associação Têxtil e Vestuário de Portugal – ATP), "with all the new European directives that are on their way, we have to reinforce two different situations: the continuous innovation process, an innovation linked to the quality of the product, sustainability and circularity, as well as our ability to communicate how sustainable and circular our products are. We will have to greatly reinforce our capacity to communicate our actions and initiatives".
Mário Jorge Machado considers that "Portugal has to be the reference at international level in terms of sustainability". "Whether because of the renewable energies we use or the more sustainable production methods in terms of water and energy consumption, and in addition to all the investment we are making in terms of circularity, the goal as an industry is to reach the end of this decade as a fully decarbonised industry," concluded the president of ATP.