The conventions held annually by the sector’s international organizations (IAF – International Apparel Federation, EURATEX and ITMF – International Textile Manufacturers Federation), are a sublime opportunity to get up-to-speed on knowledge and the latest trends, which will dominate the industry in the years to come.
ITMF’s convention in Nairobi provided a glimpse at the consolidation of Chinese domain over the global textile business, at a quota higher than 40%, while large investments in equipment and technology are even more disproportionate.
The average salary of a textile worker in China is approximately 600 euro per month, and it’s becoming too expensive for an industry whose competitive advantage are prices and product massification, so the great Chinese companies are investing heavily in neighbouring countries, such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Laos or Bangladesh, as well as other geographies like Ethiopia or Kenya, availing the low wages – between 40 to 110 dollars a month. The move was predictable, how fast it came was not.
Another general tendency has to do with the foreseeable stagnation of cotton production and consumption, globally, which is balanced by the increase of artificial fibres such as viscosis and, most of all, polyester.
The cross-relation is clear with the rise of polyester production in the last 20 years, the only raw material – whose production is centred in China – that matches the increase of consumption worldwide.
In less than 20 years, a Chinese will consume more textiles and clothing than an American or European, which will generate a new offer and demand paradigm, towards which there still might be some ignorance – or denial – by the stakeholders of the industry, and even less strategic thinking to confront it.
And if sustainability dominates the textile lingo – which even leads to some initiatives aimed at fighting “audit fatigue”, which is no more than the hypocritical assurance of the companies lack of responsibility –, the industry’s digitalization has become the companies’ top concern since the trail is unknown and the rewards are bountiful. However, so are the risks, many of which could be dire for companies, even for those that have been around for generations.
For this reason, and because it was vital to bring the ITMF Congress back to Europe, especially to Portugal (today seen as an international case study of an industry that managed to find new development drives to resurge), ATP has successfully applied into organizing the 2019 ITMF Convention. This grants our association the honour of promoting, over the course of seven years, the three biggest congresses of the sector worldwide, after having received the IAF (2012) and Euratex (2017).
The ITMF Congress will be a world-class event and an excellent opportunity to place the Portuguese Textile and Clothing Industry back on the map, this time not for its dimension, but rather for its innovative technology, design and service.