At the entrance to the fair, in the Business Design Centre, the 6Dias stand receives constant visits from people, who look through the samples on the hangers and discuss options and prices.
“This is our fourth time at this fair and it has been increasingly positive. Between yesterday [Wednesday] and today we have already made several sales,” the company’s sales director, Lara Braga, told Lusa.
Customers, she said, are seeking the company out because of Portugal’s reputation for fabric and clothing production and for ease of communication and establishing relationships of trust compared to competing countries like those in the Middle East.
Established in 2006 by a family with roots in the textile industry, the company from Vale do Ave, in northern Portugal, offers a variety of articles made from polyester, viscose, cotton, linen, polyamide and silk, with the option of adding embellishments.
As well as to the United Kingdom, 6Dias sells to France, Belgium and the Netherlands, achieving a turnover of around €7 million.
The company is taking part in the fair as part of a group of nine companies in a mission from the Selectiva Moda Association, which aims to add value to the Portuguese textile industry abroad.
However, the fair has also attracted other Portuguese companies, such as Anbievolution, which specialises in circular knitwear.
The company’s experience at the London Textile Fair, according to its marketing and sales manager, Maria João Carvalho, has gradually improved since 2016.
“Before, there were more designers, now some brands are visiting,” she said, mentioning Marks & Spencer, Topshop and Vivienne Westwood.
The growing interest, consultant Jorge Sá Couto believes, is based on the quality and geographical proximity that the Portuguese textile companies offer compared to countries like China and Turkey.
“With ready-to-wear, there are fewer large collections and there is more small-scale production and [brands] are looking for producers that are geographically closer,” he said.
With 20 years of history, Anbievolution survived the textile crisis in Portugal and drafted an internationalisation project that increased international sales by 5-7% in 2014 to 42% today, almost doubling its turnover to €7 million per year.
Also in search of a bigger international market is Trimalhas, which has exhibited at this fair since 2015.
“We feel it is very targeted towards new designers and small collections, but we have also made contacts with customers from large chains, such as John Lewis and Next,” said Patrícia Magalhães, who is responsible for Trimalhas’ expansion and marketing.
The company, which was founded in 2002 is investing in internationalisation, and has also attended fairs in Munich, Milan and Paris.
In London, the company has made many contacts and identified market prospects, and wants to promote its catalogue, which focuses on items made from certified organic, sustainable and recycled materials, and sports products.
Currently, 30% of Trimlahas’ sales are already made abroad, including those produced by non-direct customers, which are sold in the stores of the Inditex group, such as Zara, Massimo Dutti and Uterque, and British chain Next.
Turnover in 2016 was €16 million and it in 2018 are expected to be between €15 and €16 million.
The London Textile Fair is on for just two days and ends on Thursday. It targets industry professionals with textile displays, printing studios and vintage clothing.
The event, the first of the year for the industry, attracts more than 5,000 visitors over two days, 85% of which are British, but also visitors from France, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, northern Europe and the Middle East, some representatives of brands such as Selfridges, Marks & Spencer, Ted Baker, LaCoste, Zara, All Saints, Gap, Burberry, Gucci and Primark.