The effects of the pandemic on the world economy have yet to be ascertained in detail. All the indicators suggest we ought to be worried. Loss of sales, lost productivity and job losses are just some of the consequences of this virus.
What now, knowing that the world does not stop and that even in extreme circumstances there are new opportunities? As for Portuguese fashion, how has it prepared for the new challenges ahead? Will it present a united and integrated response? Here we discover the arguments for transforming Portugal into the “creative factory of Europe”.
“Fashion’s roots are in Europe”. These are the words of Luís Onofre. “We have to know how to capitalise on this, in alliance with our creativity and the ability of our companies to respond”, argues the chairman of APICCAPS and of the European Confederation. César Araújo, of the Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal (ANIVEC), agrees, saying that “the Portuguese industry is unique in Europe and the world”. “It has an output that cannot be found anywhere else, which combines quality, innovation, service, proximity to the main markets both geographically and culturally, and social and environmental responsibility”, he added.
Fátima Santos, from the Portuguese Jewellery and Watchmaking Association (AORP), stresses that “the need to produce more locally, to create a circular economy in Europe where supply and demand are closer, to be quicker and more flexible in responding to new consumer dynamics” could favour Portuguese companies. Added to this is “a reversal of the fast-fashion logic to production that is based more on quality, design and sustainability” and the inevitable need for the “creation of relationships of trust within the entire value chain”. As a result, Portugal could differentiate itself as the “creative factory of Europe, where creation and production come together and help each other“. Indeed, according to Fátima Santos, “differentiation comes from creativity, the ability to read the market and the consumer, to anticipate trends. From production comes the ability to find new materials, new ways of bringing a design vision to life”.
Eduarda Abbondanza notes “the versatility of the Portuguese industry, which has diversified and become more attractive in terms of production”. Added to this is the existence of “textile intelligence and technology centres, certification, research, technical training and higher education centres, laboratories, design and prototype studios, fairs and fashion weeks, we are digital, crafters, we work with robots and have many active communication systems. We have almost everything”. For the president of ModaLisboa, it is important to perfect “network working and collaborations, to understand that the exercise of design is essential for the development of fashion”. Now that “sustainability is a part of everyday life and a strategy of integration is fundamental, both at the local and global level of communication”.
“Creativity, innovation, competence, entrepreneurship and transparency” will be the pillars on which the Portuguese industry of the future will stand. Mónica Neto’s opinion is based on the fact that only in this way will it be “possible to return to the growth and evolution we had traced out before”. For the head of Portugal Fashion, “there will be no safe distance between innovation and technology and the sector’s creativity, digitalisation will no longer be a future, once and for all, sustainability practices will cease to be a trend or marketing and will instead be a condition of existence. The industry is preparing itself for a sector that is, in essence, slower, but which is faster in responding to its customers and consumers, and one that is more able to scale up its added value.”
Fátima Santos believes that “we have been presented with an opportunity to rethink models of business and production and that this has given us room to also redefine our international position, which has always been short-term and with no sustainable strategy, immune to the fluctuations of the international market”. César Araújo contends “we are an industry with a great deal of knowledge – not just in production, but also in product development. We can work in partnership with our customers to give them what it is they are looking for. We are not just producers, we are the providers of a quality service that extends from the design and development of prototypes to the choice of materials and the most advanced logistic solutions. All in the same place, within a very small radius of activity and just a few hours’ flights from the main fashion centres. That is what differentiates us from the competition, and it is what will enable us to overcome future challenges”.
For Luís Onofre, “Portugal is on its way to becoming the European epicentre for the development of sustainable solutions”. “We have skills, the knowledge gained over generations, that we combine with our ability to respond unusually quickly”.