Another advantage of living in Brussels is a chance to learn about so many different things, people and cultures. WeLoveBrussels and its team of bloggers/instagrammers attended a very interesting presentation which was organized at the Permanent Representation of Portugal to the EU with the aim to learn how Portugal is rising to become a world leader in textile and fashion industry.

This was an interesting success story – an industry which struggled and moved from rock bottom to rocking the top. It is also a story of moving from old fashioned way of doing things to modern managing.

“During the crisis years, when many companies disappeared, my biggest fear was that our textile and clothing industry would lose the critical mass needed to attract the brands to come and make their collections. Fortunately, we managed to keep the supply of a set of specialties that focused on the movement of customers to our country, concentrated in a 50 kilometres radius,” said Manuel Gonçalves, a member of the Cluster Textile Board – a group of companies, universities and technology centers – and administrator of one of the most powerful and traditional Portuguese textile groups founded 80 years ago by his grandfather.

The textile sector witnessed a remarkable technological progress. Sector decided to fight back the crisis and families had to fight for their small businesses, investing in their own companies, looking for partnerships, innovations and other ways of improving things. Limitations were clear – family businesses don’t have big resources and yet, they need more creativity and bigger ambition.

“Our day to day life is not easy. We work in the most difficult of industries. To succeed you must believe and have a great will to win. We do it and we are proud of it,” said Paulo Melo, President of the Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal.

It was emphasized that having industrial facilities in Europe is really contributing to the ‘brand’. Highly skilled work force and great location are all important factors which make Portuguese textiles attractive to the rest of the world. Also, there are numerous certifications which serve as a proof of quality – using fair trade materials, ecological/organic, recycled polyester, dynamic color, and other innovations. These are the reasons why the textile industry in Portugal become so successful.

Portuguese textile is present on biggest fashion shows in the world, such as New York for instance. This also helps in improving the brand but it was not a quick success – representatives of the industry explained that everything needs to be done step by step: slow development, selling the lifestyle, knowledge and answering clothing challenges of the modern world.

After the conference, this Portuguese event offered a chance to public in Brussels to ‘touch the innovation’ and see examples of textiles and innovative fabrics coming from Portugal.

We also recommend a following article if you want to learn more about Portuguese textile industry.