DecryptedPortugal has become the favorite workshop for French fashion brands. After the shock of China’s entry into the WTO and the 2008 crisis, the country’s textile industry, which benefits from relatively cheap labor, was able to reinvent itself and invest in modern equipment.
Under the presser foot of her sewing machine, a seamstress inserts the needle into a loop to attach to a belt. Her fingers are stained with an indigo blue dye. That of the dozens of raw jeans of the BonneGueule brand that, since early in the morning, have passed through her hands. At the 5D factory, located in Esmeriz, Portugal, northeast of Porto, pants, jeans and shorts clutter the cutting and sewing tables. No label mentions a Portuguese brand. The company, founded by Carlos Pereira and Andreia Vigario in 2015, operates 100% for export.
Its clients are mainly French brands, “Parisians”says mI Vigario. Among them are renowned labels, such as APC, but also young shoots born on the net, such as Loom, Patine or BonneGueule. Some 40 kilometers to the northwest, Triwool manufactures Caroll and Maison 123 T-shirts in the heart of the industrial area of Esposende, a small coastal town, while Vermis, a shirt specialist based in Moreira de Conegos, south of Guimaraes, the birthplace of the nation Portuguese, makes models for designers Isabel Marant, Jacquemus or Fred Perry.
The order book of textile workshops in Portugal is full to the last page. The 5D denim specialist has enough to occupy its 110 employees until the end of June. In Santa Cristina de Aroes, in the Fafe countryside, Elmate’s automatic knitting machines run at full speed, for the perfect Asphalte sweater, Baby Dior blankets and Ami Paris sweaters, the brand created by Alexandre Mattiussi. “Impossible to take new orders before the end of 2022”explain Belèm Pereira and her daughter, Elsa, the two leaders of this family-owned SME, a weaving specialist since 1988.
Modern factories and expert hands
Because the Portuguese fashion industry is “at full speed”, Judge José Pedro Barros, co-director of Triwool. The success of the manufacturers – most of them are located in the district of Braga, northeast of Porto – is not new. Textiles, which employ 140,000 people in the country, or 20% of employment in the industry, account for 10% of exports. More than 5,000 companies belong to this sector, according to statistics from the Portuguese Textile and Clothing Association.
The cost of labor has made them competitive, says Yves Dubief, president of the Union des Industries Textiles de France. The minimum salary is 775 euros in Portugal. Therefore, the “twenty-five minutes needed to make a t-shirt is not expensive”says Guillaume Declair, co-founder of the Loom brand. “It is much less than in France”also explains William Hauvette, founder of Asphalte, a brand that, except for its parkas and pieces with sleeves, manufactures ” everything “ in Portugal.
You have 72.17% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.