While the new trends for Spring–Summer 2020 were being presented on the catwalks at Paris Fashion Week, five of Portugal’s largest textile companies — Calvelex, Riopele, Twintex, Paulo de Oliveira and Polopique — came together to discuss a sustainable and technologically advanced vision for this global sector. The showcase took place at Galerie Nikki Diana Marquardt in Les Marais, one of the trendiest districts in Paris and was under the creative direction of Miguel Flor.
Five LED panels opened life-sized windows into the Portuguese factories, revealing its people, machines and processes: An immersive digital installation taking visitors from the gallery to the beating heart of the Portuguese industry. “Physically it was a group of five companies, but it was truly representing thousands of enterprises, from a country that produces at the highest quality with state-of-the-art technology and with total respect for its workers”, Bruno Mineiro, Director of Client Management at Twintex explains.
“We brought the factory to fashion week for the first time, to show who and what is behind the collections presented, from spinning to the finished product”, describes César Araújo, CEO of Calvelex. He also explains that “showing the know-how of the industry creates awareness on the consumer side and understanding the process makes it even more valuable”.
Slow fashion, ethical and sustainable production, circular economy and fair trade are certifications that have been part of the lexicon and growth of Portuguese textile and clothing companies for several generations.
The five companies know that the negative impact of the fast-fashion culture no longer goes unnoticed by the consumer. Although 2019 might be the year that raised awareness of this impact due to the popularisation of documentaries like ‘True Cost’, ‘Dirty Secrets’, ‘Fashion Revolution’ and other activist movements, the industrial revolution in Portuguese factories started many years ago. Slow fashion, ethical and sustainable production, circular economy and fair trade are certifications that have been part of the lexicon and growth of Portuguese textile and clothing companies for several generations.
The fast and constant adaptation translates into one of the most significant competitive advantages of Portugal. Luís Guimarães, CEO of Polopique, adds that, “It is essential for people to realise that the textile industry is not a bad industry, but rather a very specialised industry, environmentally aware and pleasant to work in”. Paulo Oliveira, CEO of Paulo de Oliveira, adds “Portugal has companies of excellence, equipped with the most modern and innovative technology and with high technical capacity”.
Representing the best of Portugal’s music and gastronomy, the evening included a performance by Conan Osiris and a Portuguese tasting menu especially prepared by Chef Pedro Lemos.
The event in Paris also marked the presentation of Zona Industrial, the new international campaign by MODAPORTUGAL. The Zona Industrial fashion editorial was shot against an industrial backdrop at the factories of the five organising companies and shows models in the role of textile and clothing production workers. Representing the best of Portugal’s music and gastronomy, the evening included a performance by Conan Osiris and a Portuguese tasting menu especially prepared by Chef Pedro Lemos.
In the words of José Alexandre Oliveira, chairman of the board of directors of Riopele, the event not only “exceeded expectations” but people were “surprised by the boldness”. This opinion is shared by the Strategic Council of Premiere Vision, of which he is also a member. “Fashion is all about surprise, and although some people might have found it strange to find the Portuguese industry owners at this event, the initial impact of this campaign was tremendously successful.”
Paris was also the stage for discussions on the next steps. Paulo Oliveira acknowledges that, “With the industry evolving at an unprecedented speed, the coming years will be an intense and complex challenge, due to the enormous impact of structural changes in the consumer purchasing process, as well as in the transparency and fluidity of information”.
The CEO of Paulo de Oliveira sums up the future of the Portuguese industry in one word: Flexibility. The company specialising in woollen fabric was one of the first companies to install a wastewater treatment unit in Portugal and remains committed to investing in improving energy efficiency, substantially reducing water consumption and reusing waste. Paulo Oliveira also highlights the growing impact of Re.Born and OliveiraGreen recycled products.
Likewise, Twintex’ objective is to continue the effort to reduce emissions, until an infinitely sustainable system is achieved. To this end, they will continue to invest in the ECOLife concept and re-inventing itself in order to generate greater efficiency. Bruno Mineiro points out that, the factory has been producing 55% of its electricity through photovoltaic panels since 2013 and has already managed to reduce 60% of its emissions since 2010.
Sustainability is neither an obligation, nor a necessity, but a reality, which is part of the daily life of Portuguese companies and involves all our workers.
Calvelex’s strategy is to focus on handmade production and “de-automating” the industrial process. The company specialising in formal women’s wear and owner of international brands Frenken and Helen McAlinden intends to continue to reduce its ecological footprint, investing in the installation of photovoltaic panels, reusability and the circular economy. César Araújo explains, “Sustainability is neither an obligation, nor a necessity, but a reality, which is part of the daily life of Portuguese companies and involves all our workers”. The mission is that clients continue to look to Calvelex for the 3 P’s it offers: People, Planet and Profitable.
Riopele’s 92-year-old history doesn’t mean it is slowing down any time soon. José Alexandre Oliveira highlights their “Rebirth of Textiles” philosophy and the Tenowa brand, a project that recycles and reuses waste from the textile and agri-food industries, transforming them into new fibres, threads and fabrics. The monthly production of 180 tons of yarn and 700,000 meters of fabric is accompanied by high investment in the reuse of water and the recently developed mega field of photovoltaic panels. “Both companies and the final consumer must look at sustainability with great responsibility and contribute individually to have a more positive impact on our planet”, concludes José Alexandre Oliveira. ♦
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