In our interview, Francesco Marchi, Director General EURATEX, discusses the latest trends in the European fashion industry – and makes recommendations for more growth in the sector.
- Your outlook for 2015 for the European fashion industry?
The outlook for 2015 for the European fashion industry is cautiously positive. Despite lack of progress during the third quarter of 2014 as household consumption slowed down in combination with the difficulties faced in certain key markets like Russia, the prospects for 2015 points towards improvements compared to this year.
This is valid both in terms of forecasts on the industry’s competitive position outside EU as export expectations for the next months are definitively positive and of the confidence of the clothing industry despite stronger competition from imports.
- What are the most vital topics of the branch?
It becomes evident that the 2009 crisis has profoundly modified the behaviour of the fashion industry both at production, retail and consumers level. Moreover tragedies such as that of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh did place sustainability at the centre of the chessboard providing growing evidence of the inefficiencies linked to unskilled and often under-equipped workers in low-costs countries and therefore not making in the long term the low-cost strategy winner anymore. Certainly shrinking order sizes, tighter margins and even shorter lead times gave suppliers lots of pain while at retail level, sales and discounts became a fixed part of the selling floor.
I do believe that consumers wanted ‘fewer and better’ products while retailers still focus on more promotions. All this is making companies life difficult as the markets react more and more differently depending on the country and on the selling channel on which you sell.
With this analysis in mind it is clear that for the EU SMEs the most vital topic are [a] to invest in innovation: both in process and products through the optimization of existing production and logistic tools; [b] to develop new strategies aiming at growing transparency into the value chains with the view of controlling production costs by increasing the efficiency and the collaboration among the actors; [c] the reasoned approach to multi-channelling to support their development.
- What do you expect from Texprocess 2015?
Considering how the markets have evolved since 2013 it will be the opportunity to review the new trends in technology and would provide ample chances for manufacturers to value the merit of the various innovations offered to the market.
Besides the innovations presented in particular, but not only, in the design, cutting room, CAD/CAM and quality control area I look forward to specific areas of interest like for instance the bonding and gluing technologies; the more sustainable technologies for dyeing or the digitalisation of the processes for mastering the value chain, from raw materials to retail and beyond.
Furthermore I encourage the Texprocess visitors to visit also the Techtexil fair that is organised at the same time. This should provide them the opportunity to feel the changes in the technical textiles fields as we know by experience that those technological developments could well influence or be transferred in the fashion world and vice-versa.