ASBX Fashion Group is a textiles manufacturer based in Portugal, manufacturing hoodies, t-shirts, and other apparel. In this interview, they share insights about the current state of textiles manufacturing in Europe, MOQ requirements, sustainability, buyers shifting orders from Asian suppliers, and much more.
We also disclose that ASBX Fashion Group has a sponsored listing on this website. While this article was not published as part of their advertisement, it can be considered a sponsored post by extension.
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What are some benefits of manufacturing textiles in Portugal?
Portugal has some very significant competitive advantages when it comes to garment manufacturing, especially for higher quality products.
Our central location and prime logistical infrastructure mean that goods can be sent to Europe and the Americas very easily. Lead times are also a lot faster and freight costs are much lower than those of Asian countries. The government and the EU offer Export Companies several incentives and funds for the export industry in Portugal, meaning that factories are more competitive and can provide customers with better products.
Both Major Retailers and Startup Brands take advantage of this and manufacture their clothes in Portugal. Our country is especially popular and competitive with European buyers when it comes to high-quality products with the lowest MOQs worldwide. It’s for sure one of the strongest and most sustainable textile industries worldwide.
Sustainability is also paramount for Portugal Clothing Manufacturers in general. With our projects, ASBX is able to be at the industrial forefront, pushing fashion’s sustainability vision. Over several years we have worked closely with labs, PhDs, and universities around the world in order to find ways to improve the productivity of our productions using only the most highly controlled materials and make sure those can also be tested consistently.
Have you seen an increase in interest from buyers previously importing from Asia?
Absolutely. 2021 was for the Portuguese textile industry the year with the highest total export volume and also registered a large growth since the previous record of 2019. In general and despite all the global instability scenarios can say the international demand for Portugal clothing is very high, especially for jersey products, which is our core at ASBX.
Also, with the fuel costs rising, the production markets of the far east can become unstainable with the brutal rise of container and sea freight shipping. For Portugal, this is in a sense very beneficial. Specially for European buyers due to the faster production speeds and easy export process within the E.U.
Price-wise, although our quality is higher, our factories can provide higher productivity than eastern suppliers, ensuring almost 100% quality control scores and having rigorous deadline management.
Besides this Portugal has probably the lowest manufacturing MOQs worldwide, which is incredibly beneficial to e-commerce companies, this allows them to launch products with very little risk and easily re-order what has proven to sell.
If we see in a Macro view, think the future for Portugal will be more than ever to specialize in higher-quality small quantities, especially for the e-commerce sector brands.
How do textiles manufacturing in Portugal compare to other EU countries?
Portugal has within the E.U Probably a unique value proposition when it comes to textile production. We don’t just have factories, but a cohesive cluster with several sub-connecting industries that produce the world’s highest quality clothes at amazing prices.
Around the Cities of Famalicão, Braga, and Barcelos there is an extremely strong cluster of clothing companies specializing each in their niche but with access to a huge pool of resources, either highly experienced clothing professionals, subcontractors, and raw material providers.
Across the EU there is no region that compares to Portugal in terms of our value proposition. Would say there are factories for each type of client, offering, and product.
Do you mainly source fabrics and other materials in Europe, or elsewhere?
Yes for sure. At ASBX we only acquire fabrics in Portugal, which come from the best and most certified fabric vendors.
Since March 2022 we also firmed a strong partnership with a strategic partner and now own our own fabric production in Barcelos as well, which makes us a lot more competitive especially for smaller batches that are the core.
Also with the launch of XLABS Productions, our organic and recycled clothing offering will become a lot more complete and with this, we will have a huge option of fabrics that fit into our sustainable mission.
What is the typical MOQ in Portugal?
Depends a lot on the focus sub-niche. Because within our textile industry there is a huge range of Factories specializing each in different quantities for different types of clients. Fast Fashion suppliers and trading companies that make for Spanish retailers mainly, work with relatively high quantities per style, which can go from 1000 to 3000 per style/color or much higher if is Inditex.
While factories for more premium segments, the average quantity is around 300-500 per style. Of course, there are exceptions, and some companies work with even more than these quantities. In our market, which is a value add, especially for startup and SME brands we work with lower batches from 100-250 per style or color.
And even launched in January a luxury streetwear blank line with no minimums which has been insanely successful, since brands can test products with reduced risk.
Do Portuguese textiles factories generally accept small volume buyers?
Following a little bit on the previous question´s answer depends a lot on which factory. Generally, the high-volume factories with a heavy cost structure, simply don’t have the possibility to take a small order as their processes are not made for small batches. If a factory is designed to take orders of 2000 pcs per style, if they accept 100 pcs, probably will create unbalances in their structure, and cause production issues both for the customer and the factory.
Textile production has lots of steps and generally and factories must stop the process multiple times for tests, client approvals, among others. So a factory that is structured to make what we call corporate clients, like large brands with yearly programs, can have difficulties taking first or second-time brands with small quantities and that is still discovering how production works.
However, there are still a lot of manufacturers that have a few larger clients but are still happy to take new brands and help them grow. Our Offer at ASBX is a lot more complete though, and are even launching a new product brand, Start Fashion Brand, with a dedicated website.
The purpose of this company is to have an offering solely adapted to the new brand audience and correct all the pain points, creating the best customer experience ever.
Let’s say I’m starting a new brand. What should I do to be taken seriously by textiles manufacturers in Portugal?
Well, this depends a lot on the type of factory you contact. Would advise that a new buyer contacts a factory that is available to take small orders and has a structure ready to fulfill them. Another very important aspect is to provide manufacturers with clear references and concrete information about the product you would want to make and explain clearly what product specs you need and also when you need the products.
Another very important piece of advice would give is to simplify the process as much as possible, and make the least samples as possible. This will ensure a much smoother process, and that the stock is delivered much quicker.
How does ASBX Fashion Group intend to become more competitive in the coming years?
Our vision is very clear to be one of Europe’s more competitive 5.0 clothing companies, by connecting our manufacturing background to the new technologies and creating a unique company in the sector in Portugal.
In the following months we will launch two new production brands, XLABS Productions focusing on recycled and sustainable only clothing, and Start Fashion Brand, a manufacturing dept solely focused on helping new brands.
This will be allied to the launch of our sample store, which will make available 100ds of styles as samples that brands can buy with no delay and ready for export. This is completely new for the industry, and we will be the only factory with a full sample store ever in Portugal.