AN INSIDER'S VIEW: THE PORTUGUESE TEXTILE & APPAREL INDUSTRY

Portugal

The textile and apparel industry is one of dynamism where constant shifts in trends and economics determine strategies and how companies achieve their objectives. Today we’re delighted to discuss, and gain better insight into this industry, from Paulo Vaz, General Director of ATP (Textile and Apparel Association of Portugal).

  • Paulo Vaz, General Director of ATP (Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal)

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT ATP?

ATP is an acronym for Associação Têxtil e Vestuário de Portugal (Textile and Apparel Association of Portugal). It is an employers’ association that represents 510 companies from the textile and apparel sector. These companies provide more than 35,000 jobs and have a combined turnover of 3 billion Euros.

ATP was created in 2003, after the merger of ATP – Portuguese Textile and Clothing Association and APIM – Portuguese Knitwear Association. The merger of these two associations has made ATP the reference in the Portuguese textile and apparel sector, as well as one of the most influential in Europe.  

WHAT KIND OF MAJOR SHIFTS HAVE YOU NOTICED IN THE TEXTILE AND APPAREL INDUSTRIES OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS, BOTH INTERNATIONALLY AND IN PORTUGAL?

Over the past 10 years, one of the major changes in the international textile and apparel industry was the transition of a large majority of production to Asia due to relatively fast turn around and low costs. More recently, due to the increasing level of production costs in Asia, I have noticed that production is coming back to Europe. I believe that the resurgence of Europe as an industrial epicenter may once again increase our [Portuguese textile and apparel industry] influence.

To be more specific we [Portuguese textile and apparel industry] have become more competitive by improving competencies in critical areas: fashion and design, brand, innovation and differentiation, R&D, communication and marketing, distribution and advanced logistics. Portuguese companies have increased product in the value chain by incorporating technological and creative innovation - design and fashion - to differentiate their offers and introduce great services to secure traditional markets and win new ones, which together has proved to be a winning formula.

WHAT HAS CHANGED IN PORTUGAL AS A RESULT OF THESE SHIFTS?

Changes in productivity monitoring, industry mechanization and innovation technological in terms of products and processes have naturally led to an increased skill-set. Now, there is a high value placed on professional profiles with an emphasis on those in marketing, design, quality and logistics.

WHAT ARE THE STRONG POINTS OF THE INDUSTRY [TEXTILE AND APPAREL] IN PORTUGAL AND HOW CAN IT IMPROVE?

Some strong points of the Portuguese industry are the structure and dynamism, in addition to flexibility, reactivity and resilience. All of the factors give added value to the “made in Portugal” label which is recognized, appreciated and sought after. That said we need to improve the drive for  entrepreneurship and increase the level of education and professional training.

WHAT ROLE DOES TECHNOLOGIES CURRENTLY PPLAY IN THE INDUSTRY AND HOW WILL IT SHAPE THE FUTURE?

Technological advancements have been essential to the modernization process of the industry. They enable a more efficient way to work and leaves us room to develop new offerings. 

Technology is the path to the future for the Portuguese industry. Permanent equipment and updates in the technology will help us remain competitive in the global landscape. More importantly, these advances will help to strengthen the link between technology and artistic creativity, which is one area in which Lectra already excels.

WHAT KIND OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO STUDENTS WHO WISH TO WORK IN THIS INDUSTRY?

I would advise students to be prepared to work in a very demanding, dynamic flexible and reactive industry that has a global footprint. Something that students should also keep in mind is that this is an industry where glamour meets technology, fashion meets sustainability and (specifically for Portuguese students) the “made in Portugal” label adds value to products.