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Production clothing in Portugal

Production clothing in Portugal

How to find the best manufactures of clothing?

Quality:   Portuguese people are very qualified.

Reactivity:   It is easy to get a production done with short lead times, and to have reorders.

Proximity and Accessibility:   Portugal is approximately 2 hours’ flight from Paris or London. It is in the same time zone as the UK, 1h behind France. There are frequent flights run by both established airlines and low-cost carriers. It is also typically cheaper and faster to ship merchandise from Portugal to Continental Europe.

Flexibility:   It is possible to produce small quantities.

Creativity:   Brands appreciate the fact that when they are stuck with a missing fabric or accessory, the factory always finds an suitable and creative solution.

The factories are concentrated in the North of the country, around Porto. Vizela and further up North for woven fabrics, Guimarães, Barcelos and Famalicão for jersey and knitwear, Covilhã and Guarda for wool products, Felgueiras and São João de Madeira for shoes. Smaller artisans are spread all over the country.

For small brands, the main resource for finding producers is still word of mouth: fabric reps, manufacturers in other countries, colleagues, etc. Specialized trade fairs are also a good source. Lasticot found their factory partners at the trades show Zoom by Fatex. In Portugal, the Textile and clothing association ATP sends representatives to all major fairs around the world to promote their industry.

French brand Chupeta has been working directly with Portuguese factories since 2002. Fatima de Araujo, owner of the brand, made contact with factories while doing an internship in Portugal. So for her it was no trouble to source production.

Another interesting approach is to visit and explore. I recently came across two examples of brand owners who booked a ticket to Portugal to have a look around. They both succeeded in finding what they were looking for.

To find a suitable atelier for her small production of beautiful fabric necklaces and jewelry pieces, Mathilde de Turckheim didn’t hesitate to fly from Paris. She visited the fabric stores in the center of Porto, asked questions around and found her way to a small unit that is now working on her next collection. “Visiting is crucial. It takes a bit of time, it can be strenuous work but you always end up finding the right supplier. I wish I had more time to look around Viana di Castello, the cradle of embroidery. Next time!”.

On her side, Emily McMaster of Mabo Kids flew all the way from Utah last fall to look for a shoe factory. “Up to that point, we had been making them all by hand. Serena, our shoe designer and maker, had heard that Portugal was a great place to produce shoes because it was a great blend of artisan quality, great technology, and yet would probably be less expensive than Italy. We had a couple of contacts, but basically landed in Portugal with a pair of our shoes in a little bag, prepared to knock on the doors of factories, see where and how the shoes were being made, and get some quotes and samples under way.”

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Production clothing in Portugal

Production clothing in Portugal

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