The European Union Strategy for the Sustainability and Circularity of Textiles was the kick-off of this year’s edition of the iTechStyle Summit, taking place at the Leixões Cruise Terminal until Friday. Innovation in processes and materials, circularity, and digitization are the assets – and, in a way, the obligations – pointed out by national and international specialists.
Taking place for the first time in conjunction with the annual conference of the ETP – European Textile Conference, which deserved the extension of the event to three instead of the usual two days, the iTechStyle Summit started this Wednesday with a watchful eye on the future of European ITV, imposed by the sustainability policies proposed by Brussels recently.
“Everything is going to change”, assured Dirk Vantyghem from Euratex, recalling that by 2030, textile companies will have to obey 16 rules regarding the sustainability and circularity of processes and materials. “We are moving from a very little regulated industry to a highly regulated industry”, Dirk Vantyghem warns, considering that innovation will be the key to success.
“And it is because we believe that innovation is crucial for this transformation that the textile industry is experiencing that we proposed in Brussels the creation of a specific fund for innovation in the textile sector of 1000 million euros”, reveals Dirk Vantyghem admitting the possible approval of that fund by the end of the year.
And if innovation is one of the keys to the metamorphosis of European ITV, quality also assumes a prominent place. This is at least one of Lutz Walter’s reflections, who points out: “the use of more recycled and organic materials, the efficient use of energy in processes, and digitization” as the three pillars of the sector’s future. “It is essential that brands understand that European production makes their processes more efficient and sustainable. It is in clothing that 36% of the climate impact of textiles fixes”, reflects.
The reflections of the international specialists preceded the opening session of the iTechStyle Summit, which had the interventions of António Amorim (president of CITEVE), Michael Kamm (ETP), and Braz Costa (general director of CITEVE), who also showed confidence in what the future holds for the sector. “I am sure that companies will overcome the challenges: we can win”, considers António Amorim, recalling that the Portuguese textile cluster is now highly regarded internationally. “If we prepare ourselves and we implement all the changes before 2030, we can become even more competitive”, recalled Braz Costa.
Showing that the sector has already incorporated the environment that the future holds for it – or, in other words, taking its future into its own hands – the second panel of the day, dedicated to the principal trends in the industry, showed the most innovative it is being done already in the present. In a ‘mind-blowing’ demonstration of his power of communication, David Shah, from DRS Consultancy, hinted that primacy is “freedom in every sense” and that the individual as a unique and unrepeatable being wants a response from the fashion sector too.
With Mico Mineiro, administrator of Twintex, taking in hand an example of the ‘household’ of how a company should manage its response to new trends, it fell to Francesca Rosella, from CuteCircuit, to imply that reality is all it encloses within the virtual. It is a tendency to which there is no longer any battle to wage. On the contrary, this is the path that the new generations (the next group of consumers) understand to be ‘their world’, and it is up to the industry to know how to enter it and manage it to its benefit.
The first day of the conference ended with a dinner attended by the Secretary of State for the Economy, Pedro Cilínio, who insisted, in his speech, that the Portuguese textile and clothing sector has in its hands the necessary and sufficient equipment to maintain the prominent place that, in Europe, it managed to conquer. Cilínio welcomed “the good example that is CITEVE in terms of taking advantage of Government programs” – an ideal way to support the development of a sector that appears to be essential in the Portuguese economy. And Pedro Cilínio recalled that the technological and research center currently participates in 13 innovation agendas and three bio economy consortia.