Before they find a place in closets around the world, some of the biggest fashion labels we know make a stop in Portugal. The reason? Portugal is a high-quality paradise when it comes to textile, leather and shoe factories.
Versace, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, COS, you name it. From luxury to premium fashion, most labels look to Portugal to source fabrics, premium synthetic fibers and innovative techniques, making the country the largest textile exporter in Europe.
Although Italy and France still enjoy a solid popularity between high-end luxury brands, Portugal’s manufacturing expertise and rising quality standards has enabled a strong catch-up. In some areas, like footwear, average prices per pair are already higher than in France or Italy. “Developing and producing leather goods in Portugal is a fantastic opportunity, as, basically, you get Italian quality with French materials, but the plus of small runs and at a considerably lower cost”, said José Neves, founder of luxury platform Farfetch, to BOF, in 2015. Three years later, he is still right, as Portugal continues to be on the rise.
Portugal is sprinkled with the great textile factories – more than 10 000 if all units are included – but the gold mine is found in the Northwest, where some of the best and deep-rooted fabric experts found their place for over 100 years. It’s there where you find a landscape of small-scale factories, mostly family-run for generations, that are seen as something to be proud of. These factories specialize in limited and high-end productions, which require expertise and craftsmanship. They are the ones catering to the luxury brands that seek exclusivity and individuality, and you can find them right here at Springkode!
It feels like some of these companies have been around since ever, but that’s because they have adopted new methods and approaches. Caren Downie, former fashion director at ASOS agrees. “The new generations are taking over; they have a modern outlook and creative eagerness to be a competitor in the world market rather than a follower or just ‘a go to’ for price points. Quality has improved greatly and attention to detail is good; Italy still leads the way on creative development on both tanning techniques and applications but Portugal is catching up fast”.
The cherry on top of the cake? The influence of fast fashion giants like Inditex or H&M has created a market dynamic of short turnaround times, even more so for the typically smaller orders for premium/luxury makers. Two to six weeks is said to be the time needed to deliver a large order, something that the head of the Portuguese textile association describes as “the shortest lead time in the world”. He definitely wants more. More than ever, from clothing to footwear, consumers worldwide have been passing the word. “Made in Portugal” never sounded so good, and has finally found a home at Springkode!