Clothes manufacturing in Portugal
Part 3 of 3 kids fashion production in Portugal
We pull up to our final manufacturer of the day A.Ferreira & Filhos (AFF) a family-owned company specialising in the production of soft home furnishings, knitwear and their own baby brand, Wedoble.
On arrival we pile out of the mini bus and into their Wedoble outlet store. This company produces for the likes of the White Company and on first touch of the pieces on the rail both the quality of the yarn and the manufacturing was instantly recognisable as my sister’s favourite White Co. In store there is a young mum with granny and baby in tow fully committed to making the best of their excursion to the outlet store by stocking up on the discounted gems. I soon succumb and purchase a cashmere twin set for my baby niece in a rich burgundy – classic and something to pass on, I think to myself.
Finally after a little retail therapy we were led into the factory and to the meeting room where we are surrounded by all sorts of beautiful knitted wares. The introduction and explanation as to what they do is friendly and welcoming, the aim is for us to understand the lengths AFF as a company are taking to reduce their environmental impact and increase their sustainability principles. Recently they installed solar panels the length of the production facility roof which has led to a 40% reduction in energy costs and CO2 emissions. They are certifying their Quality Management System (ISO 9001:2015) implementing the hew GOTS Certification and the Research Development and Innovation Management System (NP 4457: 2007) to aid efficiency. They’re aiming for low water use, low waste processes (for the whole garment) and are working on a new dyeing processes with natural dyes believing that mass production is not compatible with sustainability.
We proceed on our tour through to the knitwear machinery – you name it they have it – intarsia, on the round, linking machines and a lot of them are busy working away. I always find it fascinating watching these machines work. The production capacity is 200,000 units a year, with 36 looms, 10 whole-garment and a work force 76 strong.
In fact they have a new project BUSP – ‘Buy, Upcycling, Save the Planet’ brand inspired by the concept of upcycling and a circular economy and making use of raw material waste from domestic production – but more on that another time…
It’s been a really interesting day visiting these three Portuguese manufacturers. Sourcing manufacturers is something that I’m often asked about. As I said in the Wolf and Rita production post and as one Portuguese brand owner said to me it’s time ‘for Portuguese manufacturing to open up its doors’. …this press trip is part of that shift. There is a decline in those from the younger generation wishing to follow in their parents footsteps, but the superior technical knowhow remains and the Portuguese producers are fully aware of an environmentally changing world. Perhaps with current world issues and certain brands searching for alternatives to manufacturing in China maybe some will be looking towards Portugal.