While far from the top 10 list of textile and apparel suppliers to the U.S., Portugal is offering the supply chain something it desperately needs: flexibility.
At Texworld USA in New York City Monday, exhibitors in the Portugal Pavilion took an opportunity to bring their competitive offerings to light at a time when sourcing has been upset over changing trade relations, and companies are looking for new places to manufacture product.
Last year, Portugal shipped $474 million worth of textiles and apparel to the U.S., marking an 11.25 percent increase over 2017, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA). For comparison, China shipped $405.5 billion the same year, and the second largest supplier to the U.S., India, shipped $7.67 billion.
“We are aware that, for U.S. companies, European sourcing may still not compare to the imports from Asian countries, especially China, considering the greater logistical and labor facilities perceived by U.S. companies in relation to China,” said Monica Afonso, CEO of Marjomotex, a bottoms producer in Portugal. “However, given our experience that we already have in other international countries where we work, we are aware that we can reach the necessary conditions to meet the needs of American companies.”
Marjomotex’s core business is denim, but the company is also showcasing knitwear, twill and linen at this year’s show.
There’s a “considerable” added-value factor when sourcing in Portugal, according to Afonso, who said beyond quality and product innovation, manufacturers in the country are also known for flexibility and adaptability—which allows for small-batch production, something the industry’s digitally-native brands, in particular, seek in their sourcing strategies.
“We have exclusive products, quick answers and we present interesting MOQs that have allowed our customers to renew products more frequently,” Afonso said. “Portugal is able to offer tradition and industrial know-how at the textile level, with capacity for constant renewal and resilience.”
Marjomotex is located in Famalicão, a region in Northern Portugal where, as Afonso noted, “there is a strong network of partners in the textile cluster, excelling at innovation and sustainability. That regional network is part of what adds to the country’s flexibility.
What’s more, as part of a strategic plan for the textile and apparel sector in Portugal has made pointed commitments in sustainability and digitization to keep the country competitive in a global industry focused on both concepts.
“The increase of the production scale assisted by digital technologies will allow the Portuguese textile business model to keep its flexibility,” Afonso said. “Besides that, the country is one of the worldwide leaders of the private label, in what is an essential differentiator in the textile market.”
Olmac, which has also been manufacturing in the Famalicão region since 1981, seconds the notion that flexibility is among Portugal’s key competitive advantages.
“We bring to the client a great support on know-how, and presenting solutions, good quality and flexibility to lower MOQ compared with other countries,” said Olmac CEO and chief business officer Orlando Miranda.
The company’s main market is men’s knits, though it produces a portion of its knits for the women’s and children’s categories, too.
“Traditionally, we are an outwear technical garment company, with more vocation to men’s apparel,” Miranda said, noting, however, that the company is now tapping into the technical fashion opportunity. “We will present our products [that are] more fashionable, however with technical solutions, especially for the women’s market, which is growing amongst our clients.”
The sustainability factor in Portugal has its own appeal for sourcing, too. And, according to Miranda, the concept is more than a marketing effort there, its table stakes.
“As Europeans, factors such as stability, environment, sustainability, fair trade belongs to our daily vocabulary and is important [to] not only speak, but act upon,” Miranda said.
It’s similar for Marjomotex, which has more than 40 years of experience in textile manufacturing, is GOTS certified and is mulling the possibility of a production system using exclusively organic materials, Afonso said, adding, “And we will not stop here.”
Courtesy: Sourcing Journal
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