Upstream Focus is Sourcing Journal’s series of conversations with suppliers, associations, and sourcing professionals to get their perspective on the state of sourcing, innovations in manufacturing, and how to improve operations. In this Q&A, Mustafa Gültepe, President of the Istanbul Garment Exporters Association, discusses the talent, textile tradition and industry prospects in Turkey.
Last name: Mustafa Gültepe
Organization: Istanbul Clothing Exporters Association (IHKIB)
What is the biggest question or concern you hear from your members now that was never really addressed before?
Sustainability and the green transformation of the economy are currently occupying the garment and textile industry like never before. Turkey, with its proximity to Europe and its vertical structure, has the best conditions to advance this development. New technologies and manufacturing methods are in the spotlight, as is the constant expansion of cutting-edge know-how and a highly skilled workforce.
How should factories assess brands and potential business partners differently now than before the pandemic?
The pandemic has obviously affected the relationship and trust between brands and partner distributors vis-à-vis producers and exporters. At the height of the pandemic, many orders were postponed or canceled altogether, which had a major negative impact on producers and exporters. That is why it is now particularly important to rebuild mutual trust and to examine together how cooperation can be improved in the future and made more crisis-resistant. We need to invest in new forms of commerce and contracts and rethink current purchasing practices.
How can the relationship between these parties evolve?
In addition to agreements such as contractual security of all partners, it is now particularly important to develop existing partnerships and foster new ones. Direct exchange with all stakeholders is our priority.
What should be the main lesson manufacturers are learning from the pandemic? How can they solve this problem in their operations?
The pandemic has been a dramatic experience for the industry. It showed that manufacturers need to organize their production carefully, from textiles and yarns to clothing products. The basis of the partnership is decisive for successful cooperation; security and admissions must be given by both parties in order to get through such extreme situations together.
But we also found that Turkey recovered relatively quickly compared to other textile sites. Due to the specific advantages of the location, in particular the proximity to Europe and the possibility of road transport, as well as the fast and flexible production, Turkish industry has always been able to adapt to changing conditions. fast.
What is the state of production capacity of garments and textiles in Turkey? From your point of view, what are the prospects for 2022?
Turkish apparel and textile exports accounted for over $30 billion in 2021. The industry is operating at almost 90% of the sector’s capacity, which is expected to continue this year. For 2022, apparel and textile industry exports are expected to be $32-33 billion, an increase of 10-15% from 2021.
How can the Turkish government best support the national garment and textile industry during this time?
The Turkish clothing and textile industry, especially the clothing wing, is very labor intensive. Therefore, employment incentives are an important tool that the government can use to support the industry. In addition, new garment investments in eastern and southeastern Anatolia and the eastern Black Sea region can be better supported by the government in terms of employment, taxation and energy cost incentives.
If companies are not already producing in Turkey, why should they consider using it as a source location?
Turkey, as a modern sourcing hub, offers specific advantages to brands and retailers. Its proximity to the main European markets allows simple, fast and economical road transport. Fast, flexible and reliable production is the backbone of today’s supply chains. Foreign investments are supported in a targeted manner and incentives are created.
Turkey has a young and highly skilled workforce. Incentives for job expansion are also created, increasing capabilities and promoting a highly skilled workforce. With its long tradition, the Turkish textile industry has great experience and know-how in the production of garments and textiles and more than four decades of experience in exports to the European market.
What makes you most optimistic?
We can count on some key fundamental advantages that have sustained the industry thus far and will continue to do so in the future. The Turkish garment industry has extensive experience and know-how and has the advantage of vertical production ranging from cotton to apparel products. Thanks to these strong industry pillars, we can successfully implement and sustainably organize the green transformation of industry. This transformation will even stabilize the Turkish clothing sector. Turkey is tired of the young, talented and educated human force needed for this change.
What does the IHKIB have in store for 2022?
As Istanbul Apparel Exporters Association (IHKIB), we are stepping up our activities in 2022, especially with regard to new partnerships and business relationships. The Turkish clothing industry achieved $20.3 billion in exports in 2021, and our goal is to increase this figure to $23 billion in 2022. Together with Istanbul Fashion Connection, we have already launched a new platform for supply and demand in Turkey. More than 25,000 visitors from around 100 countries attended the launch event in February, where more than 600 companies showcased their collections from all fashion segments. Currently, planning is already underway for the next IFCO event on August 24-26.
Additionally, Texhibition was designed for the preliminary stage, which provides another opportunity for in-person networking in September.
IHKIB is also pursuing EU co-funded projects for the digital transformation and digitization of the garment industry in Turkey. We are also in the approval phase of a promising industry decarbonization project co-financed by the EU and we are carrying out production development projects in certain sub-sectors of the garment industry, such as socks and the shirts.