The potential for “Made Nearby”
Europe and the Euromed zone, considered the alternative solution for localized sourcing, are often preferred for their labor cost. With the PEF (Product Environmental Footprint), the measures being discussed within the European Union, local or nearby sourcing has become a priority for most brands.
The European Union is working on adapting the AGEC law and has just signed the Pact for Skills an initiative coordinated by EURATEX to support skills within the European textile ecosystem. REACH standards guarantee a certain level of quality for European manufacturing, so what defines making a choice to manufacture in the European zone?
The Euro-med systemic approach
As part of the “New business model” dossier compiled in collaboration with various federations (including the Knitwear and Lingerie Federation) and the IFM, 80% of business leaders, who were invited to express themselves on “Made In…” issues, indicated that European manufacturing was crucial for them. Europe, meaning the Schengen zone (including Switzerland and the principalities) and the Euromed zone (Mediterranean countries with textile skill bases: Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Greece, Egypt), covers a range of businesses from the processing of fibers into yarn, to the production of a wide variety of lingerie, swimwear, loungewear or activewear products. Industries range from high-end (e.g.: Roja laces from Finjersey, Weber laces) to technical products (Muehlmeier bra cups, Piave Maitex knit, Karl Mayer). They work on and with synthetic, high-tech, reclaimed yarns, industrial filters for less dumping of microparticles, and production of finished products.
This production capacity offers both independence and pooling of expertise. Nevertheless, some brands have chosen not to manufacture in France or Europe. Cost differentials have much to do with this (decent salary costs, certifications, access to materials, taxes, etc.). A European brand can distribute its production among spinners and vertically integrated factories or can promote awareness of its impact. It should be noted that the pairs of Spain/Portugal, Portugal/Tunisia, Turkey/Eastern Europe are on the rise.
“At Picture, the number-one focus of our sourcing is to produce where raw materials are located. In Turkey, our supply chain is built around the cotton fields, and processing and production are carried out within a 150 km range.
Then, we seek to produce within zones where the energy mix has the lowest carbon missions possible. For example, France and Portugal produce zero-emission electricity.” – Julien Durant, Co-Founder of the Picture Organic brand
The local manufacturing strategy
If, as a brand or manufacturer, you have a market-positioning choice to make in terms of local sourcing, here are some ideas for consideration:
- What would Made in France or Made in Europe mean for my brand?
- What network of suppliers & manufacturers do I have to make local production a reality?
- Which products in my range can I develop for or convert to local sourcing?
- What impact will it have on production costs?
- What will its overall impact be? What will be the impact if I don’t do it?
To preserve a competitive advantage and/or introduce innovations and participate in a driver for the development of more ethical materials, some professionals are making a calculated choice to manufacture in Europe and the Euromed zone. Such is the case of the We Are Jolie, Néné Paris, Simone Pérèle brands, and others…as well as French sustainable and innovative brands on the rise, Picture Organic and Circle.
“European production (of materials and garment production) is the standard for Circle. We’ve created an ecosystem of partners in several countries and France, especially since we use 100% recyclable, recycled, or natural materials. And we’re working on a bio-sourcing project with a French materials R&D lab, along with the Mines d’Albi.” – Romain Trebuil, Co-Founder & CEO of the Circle brand
And so, free-trade agreements, laws governing circularity, digital solutions for sourcing traceability, fair compensation levels, and carbon-footprint assessments are some of the tools available to evaluate the optimal strategy for your product and its market.
Management of these new channels
Though strict product traceability allows for a more realistic evaluation of impacts, notably in calculating the carbon footprint of imported products, labor-cost requirements remain a priority. Depending on the product, this cost may vary by 10 to 30% between France and the European zone. To move in the direction of sustainable production, certain Iso standards provide a framework for requirements that must be met to import into the European territory: Iso’s for European manufacturing
Also, with a mind to strengthening expert skills, brands and the European Union are committed to investing in worker requalification and development, integrating green and digital skills to improve the sector’s attractiveness. Initiatives guaranteeing a decent salary include the Fair Wear Foundation, which audits factories, including within the Euromed zone (Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey, Tunisia).
And finally, it’s about fighting the “false friend” that is the final kilometer! Some brand carbon-footprint assessments reveal that rail or maritime transport, even coming from Asia, represents less greenhouse-gas emissions per product than the distance traveled in France to deliver to clients or retailers. Logistical pooling solutions and local recycling networks are key to changing this phenomenon.
In conclusion, whether it’s within France or from nearby import markets, the environmental stakes involved in local sourcing are similar, and the differences are mainly cultural, related to costs or expert skill. Among the regulatory measures worth watching are taxonomy, the strengthening of fair-competition rules, and a potential European extension of the law on due diligence. At Interfilière Paris, we support any common-sense initiatives that serve the industry, for more conscientious production organized around responsible sourcing and the end-consumer experience.
By Aude Penouty – ENTADA TEXTILE for Interfilière Paris