We need a fast, flexible and close fast fashion industry

Conversation with ... Marta Catells, General Secretary at TEXFOR, Director at CITYC (centro de información textil y de la confección)


How has the crisis affected the fashion market?

We are living through an exceptional and unprecedented moment.  Quantifying the impact on the textile industry is still complicated, but what we can confirm is that the impact has been significant and heterogeneous among the different companies. 

A significant part of the industry has had to suspend its activity and another part has maintained its production, although at a lower-than-usual capacity.  The drastic fall in orders as well as the difficulty in collecting payments has driven many companies into a complicated liquidity situation.

However, the health crisis has also provoked a quick and strong reaction from the textile sector to produce essential materials. Companies in our country have made an unprecedented effort to supply the most urgent needs and to be able to attend to the health emergency. The textile industry has demonstrated that it continues to be a strategic sector and its contribution has been key in this health emergency.

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?

The world as we knew it will never be again; we are certainly at a turning point. This pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in our supply chain and shown that dependence on third countries can be devastating. We need a fast, flexible and close fast fashion industry, a strong industrial ecosystem.

The famous "day after' will be the time to take back activities that have moved to other countries, it will be the time to try to move consumers on a scale of values beyond price and it will be the time for sustainability, not only environmental but also social.

Opportunities come out of crises and this time, together with trends that have already been strong, such as digitalization and the circular economy, we will experience an important change. The change will not only be in the way we relate to each other; we will also experience changes at the level of commerce/trade and production processes. Only the activities that generate value will persist and R&D&I will be key, the only way to continue to remain, grow and contribute to a better society.

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

The main change I have experienced on a personal level in this pandemic is teleworking. Teleworking has taught us that other ways of relating and working are possible. I believe that team management and human relations are valued and along the way we have left behind the superficial and have kept what counts and is important.  It has also been shown that we are still far from having a society where a true work-life balance is really possible. The system needs to be reorganized and restructured to adapt it to the new reality. To conclude, this health crisis has confirmed for me the fantastic health care system and essential workers that we have and the solidarity of both society in general and our industry.