We have seen a shift in clothing production areas in recent years. Even though many fashion companies in the EU are still dependent on manufacturers in China and Southeast Asia, slowly but surely the focus is shifting to areas closer to home. The demand for sustainability, price changes and the recent COVID-19 impact on supply chains are all driving interest in nearshoring.
Nearshoring offers the possibility of producing smaller orders with shorter lead times, relatively close to home. Turkey, Portugal, Morocco and Tunisia are countries currently responding to the demand for fast manufacturing countries. An increasing number of companies — with Zara as a successful example — are using this approach to offer their products in stores at the right time and with minimum stocks.
What is Eastern Europe’s role in this development? Countries such as Poland, Albania and Moldova have a history of manufacturing clothing for the EU market. Although these countries do not produce the fabrics themselves, they were known as alternatives to Turkey for fast fashion, differentiating themselves with their quality and experience. Eastern European countries turned their attention to developing brands for their domestic markets when fast fashion manufacturing moved to Asia. However, the growing demand for nearshoring in the fashion industry means Eastern Europe is now once again becoming an attractive manufacturing area for the EU.
Moldova is geographically and culturally close to Italy and the Moldovan fashion tradition is therefore heavily influenced by Southern Europe. Their fashion has a certain flair and flamboyance. Moldovan fashion manufacturers are passionate and highly trained, resulting in quality and expertise being at the very top of their list of priorities. The country has huge export potential, which means Moldova is ready to become a core supplier for fashion companies in the EU.
The CBI (Centre for the Promotion of Imports) and ITC (International Trade Centre) are working together to support a select group of Moldovan and Belarusian manufacturers to reach their export potential in the EU4Business Ready to Trade project. This support will create an excellent balance between supply and demand. Mobile and Portavita are two examples of promising Moldovan fashion companies.
Mobile is an inspiring company with a long history of manufacturing clothing in the higher-end women’s segment. Many high-end customers have placed orders with this company in recent years. Mobile is very selective when it comes to private label manufacturing. Only customers who are compatible with Mobile's brand are welcome. Their ambition is to manufacture for brands in the highest EU segment. We are convinced Mobile will realise this objective. Mobile has also launched its own brand, Georgette, in addition to private label production. This brand is experiencing rapid growth and doesn’t just offer inspiring, modern designs, but also the highest achievable manufacturing standards.
Portavita: You simply can’t help but be impressed by the multitude of certificates on the wall when you first enter the factory. This company isn’t just aware of the legal and non-legal EU requirements, but has also done everything in its power to meet these standards. This BSCI certified factory demonstrates that high quality products can be manufactured under optimal conditions and with the utmost respect for people and the environment. Its customers are primarily based in Italy, however, the owner and her son are brimming with ambition and are ready to embrace any customers interested in private label manufacturing in Moldova.
Portavita recently also launched its own line of women's shirts under the Amarena label. The London launch clearly showed Portavita is onto a winner here too.
The Ready to Trade project is financed by EU4Business, an initiative for SMEs in the EU's Eastern Partnership countries. Visit www.eu4business.eu for more information. You can visit this page or contact the CBI’s sector expert Giovanni Beatrice (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out more about the companies in the programme.