The Fashion market is at a crossroad

Conversation with …César Araújo, President of Associação Nacional das Industrias de Vestuário e Confecção (ANIVEC)


How has the crisis affected the fashion market?

The fashion market was one of the most affected sectors in Europe. Even if people had the desire to consume, they could not because everyone was on lockdown. The fashion sector is suffering and now we need to restart. Portugal is an exporting country; it cannot restart on its own. Therefore, betting on domestic consumption is a false argument because domestic consumption is not sufficient to sustain companies. We are at a crossroads. The fashion market is at a crossroad. The statistics will come out soon. There was a 25% drop in the month of April and May will be terrible.

Would you say we will try to go back to normal as quickly as possible or do you think we will need to rethink the world post-Covid-19?

We've been through many crises. The core of this crisis was the lockdown, drama and panic. Being bombarded daily with death, people in the hospital was terrifying!  I believe there will initially be a post-coronavirus period, without a vaccine. Then, we'll have the post-coronavirus period with a vaccine.

If a vaccine is not developed, there will always be distance and mistrust. This is not good for a society, because we are used to proximity. I cannot envision us in masks. We like to see a person’s face: the eyes, the lips, the nose.  It is in our nature. Living without a vaccine will change our habits and that will not be good socially.  But I believe they will find a vaccine soon.

Regarding Portugal, the companies that exist have already gone through many crises. They are well-managed, sustainable, innovative companies with a strong export tradition and a lot of technology. The coronavirus virus has shown us that globalization is possible and desirable, but it must be regulated. It can’t continue unchecked, as it was.  

What has the crisis changed for you or what have you learned personally?

In the last three months, I had to manage the company intuitively because this situation is completely new.  Everyone is confined. I want to visit my customer but I can’t because he’s on lockdown.  In addition, I am fighting for survival as I’ve never fought before.

There is another issue.  We are an industry in which business is won with the credibility we communicate to our client and the trust they place in us. Fashion is a creative field and that creativity is not contained within four walls. We go to fairs, we share knowledge, we discuss ideas and gain knowledge from others’ experiences!

This is what I learned: when this is over, I will run to give a lot of kisses and hugs!

ANIVEC is working. We need to see that associations today include people who know the world and they are willing to help by sharing that knowledge. We have to create strategies that can help others see Portugal as a reliable, trusted supply partner.




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