These days, the relationship between subcontractors and order writers has to be as seamless as possible. And in this area, garment manufacturers in the Euro-Mediterranean basin and the Indian Ocean are well aware of their strengths. Their proximity is their leading advantage. « For restocking, it’s ideal, » says Anabela Ferreira, in charge of planning for Portugal’s Unilopes. The same message is heard from Tunisia, whose proximity « favours business with Europe », says Mayssoun Bouzidi, development manager at Texpro, which specializes in particular in denim. Another country winning on this front is Romania, especially its companies offering a high-performance technical service such as ConfLux, a jacket and coat specialist whose customers include Christophe Lemaire and Dries van Noten.
Alongside proximity, the main requirement at this edition was eco-responsibility. « I have a lot of visitors because the word « sustainable » is broadly displayed on my stand. We feel like that’s really the main concern at the moment. And in that domain, my company has 25 years of expertise, » says Alexandra Paredes, head of sales at Portugal’s Tetribérica.
« Everyone talks a lot about it, but nobody is exactly sure what should go into it, » observes Anabela Ferreira from Unilopes. She notes full sustainability is not yet a reality « because it involves the use of more expensive raw materials and not all brands are ready right now to take that step. »
Nonetheless, French fashion manufacturers want them to go for it. « We are here to say that ‘made in France’ is not just a matter of luxury. Twelve manufacturers are demonstrations of this at our stand. A French company that complies with the regulations and labour law is essentially ‘smart’. It’s important to keep that in mind, » says Karine Leclercq Margraff, the development director of the Maison du savoir-faire et de la création.
Finally, the demand for small quantities is also more prevalent due to the industry’s slowdown. « The market is shaky and budgets are blocked for next autumn/winter. We’re still on the right track, » says Sophie Lesieur, the manager of See by U, who works with fashion manufacturers in the Euro-Med zone. However, for Portugal’s LaGofra, based in Portugal, there’s an opportunity to be seized, especially as La Gofra is GOTS certified. The result? « On the first day of the show, » says director Filipe Prata, « I didn’t have time to sit down. »
Yet other subcontractors report being adversely affected by the trend to smaller quantities. « The way we are set up, we can’t make a profit on orders for fewer than 500 pieces. We’re one of the largest Romanian factories with nearly 700 employees and, in Romania, salaries have increased considerably, » says Daniela Popa, Catex’s technical director. Version Textile, based in Turkey, is facing the same problem. « The tendency now is for orders of 200 pieces. But for a structure like ours, that’s not viable, » says Bahar Kiran, head of marketing.