In recent times among fashion insiders, there is much talk about an abandoning of the Far East productive hubs and wider possibilities of reshoring toward nearer productive destinations.





Supporting this thesis, there are, for instance, Chinese borders remaining closed for COVID’s persistence; the US might start investing again in manufacturing as, according to an analysis by the McKinsey Global Institute, restoring growth and competitiveness in key manufacturing industries could boost the US GDP by more than 15% over the rest of the present decade; European brands are looking for trustworthy partners that can produce at contained prices, at a more reasonable distance, while guaranteeing the control over production and transportation costs.





The SPIN OFF has asked Cross, a Turkish specialized apparel and jeanswear manufacturer founded in 1939, employing 8,000 people and operating in Turkey and Egypt, about the present situation of the industry and about what international brands are increasingly looking for.

Peter Lantz, Cross Textiles
Photo: Cross Textiles
Peter Lantz, Cross Textiles
Cross Textiles, Peter Lantz, Head of Sustainability, Cross Textiles, explained The SPIN OFF his point of view.





What is the situation like in terms of sourcing in the present post-pandemic moment? 
We believe that the days when brands were looking only at price and quality are replaced by a four-parameter balance. Considering the current events in Europe, we see that brands are increasingly concerned with resilience as well as the upcoming legislation in the EU.





What about Turkey? How is its situation after all the difficulties the global market has been facing?
If I was asked to sum up this interview in a single word, it would be “resilience” as it’s probably the most appropriate term to explain the actual situation. Resilience to me means to have the ability to not only handle a new reality, but to thrive in it. 





Today the EU faces both an economic crisis and an energy crisis in addition to the climate crisis. As more extreme weather fluctuations are becoming the new normal and customers are less willing to spend money on clothing, the brands once again face low resilience. Just like in the pandemic, this means low flexibility and logistic challenges as well as a lack of innovation, as the shops are missing innovation and new value.

Cross Textiles
Photo: Cross Textiles
Cross Textiles
Could you explain more specifically, what do you mean?
Let’s start with recalling recent history. The reality is that brands allocated a massive part of their budget in Far East countries before the pandemic hit. This led to extremely low resilience with stocks piling up quickly, no news value, and huge logistic challenges. As on-line sales increased, it became evident that there was a need for innovation, both in the business model and on a product level. The clothing industry once again placed orders in Turkey to create much needed innovation, news value and excitement while at the same time lowering their exposure to Covid as they secured flexibility.





Later on, as the pandemic reached a more mature stage and the physical shops began opening up, there was an enormous inflow of orders to Turkey. It was probably the most busy period that we’ve ever seen. Unfortunately for all stakeholders, most brands once again moved most of their budgets back to the Far East in the past few months. 





Do you think Turkey is at a no-way-back status?
Regardless of how the global situation will develop, we expect an inflow of orders to Turkey. Unfortunately, we can see that sustainability is dropping on the agendas, but at the same time we see resilience engraved on the agenda for most boards and C-level people across industries. As the future is more uncertain than ever, brands minimise the risks to maximise the business potential. It’s no longer only the price of the product that is in focus.

Cross Textiles
Photo: Cross Textiles
Cross Textiles
In days when the German and European brands are leaving China and Asia and return to produce in the Mediterranean, can Turkey be chosen again as the alternative sourcing country? And why?
Turkey stays strong in its “old strengths” such as flexibility, quality, and ability to deliver the right product at the right time. As the market consists of specialists instead of generalists, with mills separated from the manufacturers, Turkey’s unique ability to offer innovation is stronger than ever. 





Add to that the “new strengths” including vast experience in making Life Cycle Assessments, preparing the brands for the upcoming legislation in the EU, where product passports will be required. Further to that, as brands are starting to value the importance of building resilient business models, Turkey holds an important key. 





Is this country offering apparel production as a good price-quality ratio?
Again, the importance of building resilience into the business model is becoming increasingly important for the brands. At the same time, brands are taking steps to be future-proof by adapting to the upcoming new EU legislation, an area where Turkey is at the forefront. In other words, it’s no longer only price to quality, where Turkey is offering better value than ever. Today it’s rather a four-way equation of price, quality, resilience and future-proof. In this respect, Turkey most certainly has the strongest offering on the market.





In which segments is it stronger?
As before, the women’s area is the main driver behind Turkey’s success. Men’s and children’s offerings are still important, but even more so is the possibility to place garment dyes in a wide variety of fabrics, compositions, and styles. 





Circularity is not often regarded as a segment, but I would argue that it is indeed a segment, and an increasingly important one. We already see many examples of collecting garments that reached their end of use. In this respect, Turkey is rather outstanding as a “one-stop-solution”. Of course, we celebrate initiatives that sort and recycle fibers locally, we need many solutions to solve the giant footprint that clothing creates, but long-term and in big quantity it is surely the country producing the new fabrics and garments that is best suited also for the recycling.  





What are the benefits of producing here?
With the pandemic, the energy crisis, and the general economic situation, it’s no longer a given to only put priority on price and quality. As mentioned above, resilience is becoming top-of-mind for many brands and future-proof is also on the list, as brands are preparing for the new EU legislation. Add circularity to the mix, and it’s no longer only the innovation level, quality, and lead time that stands out. 





What are the main difficulties and obstacles that need to be faced?
I believe that most difficulties and obstacles are universal. Mills and manufacturers in Turkey are used to fluctuations in quantity. However, in the recent period these fluctuations have been extreme. In the beginning of the pandemic, many brands walked out on their supply chain, leaving some companies with financial challenges even here in Turkey. In the Far East, it meant that many suppliers and numeral subcontractors simply were forced out of business, leaving so many people with difficulties to put food on the table. 





What solutions could be found?
From a brand perspective it’s of course very difficult to change the business model overnight, we understand and appreciate this. But as part of the global textile sector, it is our hope that more brands will adopt a stakeholder mindset and use that perspective in day-to-day business. Brands that already realised the advantages of true stakeholder collaboration, as opposed to purely having a monetary focus on shareholder value, are ahead. No doubt.

Cross Textiles
Photo: Cross Textiles
Cross Textiles
How is your company and generally Turkey facing the present increase of prices of energy, raw materials and transportation?

We can’t speak for all mills and manufacturers in Turkey, but for Cross Textiles and many of our stakeholders, investments include resilient and climate friendly solutions such as renewable energy. When renewable energy is planned and used correctly, it offers a stable supply, less impact on the planet, and less sensitive to energy prices. Water will be one of the most important commodities in a near future, and waste water recycling is an area of great importance. Again, less impact on the planet and less sensitive to supply equals resilience. 





Transportation had a huge impact on world trade in the past few years as the logistics for containers collapsed. Again, resilience is the key. Less risk makes better planning possible, and that will for sure have a positive effect on the stability of logistics and transportation.





How do you manage to find agreements with brands you work with?
Again, we can’t speak for all mills and manufacturers in Turkey, but for Cross Textiles it is all about long term relations with mutual trust. After all, we’re in this together! 





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