Can the textile sector bet on a major relocation movement? The health crisis has highlighted the flexibility of certain players, such as the jacquard specialist Tissages de Charlieu (Loire), faced with the challenge of manufacturing surgical masks. Today, production sites are being deployed, factories are investing in their industrial equipment.
More than 780 relocation and business development projects are supported by the government’s Relance plan, including those of Petit Bateau (Aube), Tricot Saint-James (Manche), Safilin (Pas-de-Calais) and Velcorex ( Upper Rhine).
Rebound of the textile sector after the crisis
Beyond the support of the State, it is the large distribution that allows Tissages de Charlieu to consider doubling its workforce and a five-year reindustrialization plan. The tricolor SME plans to produce tote bags from recycled textiles thanks to a contract with Auchan. Its challenges are those of the sector: to produce in France with “job-creating” textile articles; support a local activity in a sustainable and circular perspective. But the “nerve of war” remains the controls, recognizes his boss Eric Boël.
The sector -13.3 billion euros in turnover in 2020, 9.4 billion for export according to the Union of Textile Industries (IUT) – is mobilizing. “We managed to get through the crisis linked to the pandemic without any problems without any PGE or operating loss”, testifies the chairman of the management board of Tricotage des Vosges / Bleu forêt, Vincent Marie.
His company ensures an annual production of more than 6 million pairs of socks and tights made of synthetic threads. “To be competitive, you have to invest in the industrial tool. This year we have planned the acquisition of twenty automated knitting looms for an investment of 800,000 euros”, continues the manager.
Jeans, a symbol of renewal in France
Le Slip Français, founded ten years ago by Guillaume Gibault, is one of the French success stories. The brand born on the Internet, like a DNVB (for Digital Native Vertical Brand), relied on the know-how of a host of French manufacturers. It continues to consolidate its local roots, from knitting to tailoring. And launches into sports underwear with Raidlight (Isère). In recent years, other companies have found opportunities by converting to industrial textiles, which accounts for nearly 40% of production.
Will jeans become the cornerstone of this reindustrialisation? Like weaving, denim made in France is benefiting from luxury orders. Bleu Océane, a manufacturer known as high-end “responsible denim” established in Vendée, has enjoyed success right up to the catwalks of “Fashion Week”. Taken over by the French brand 1083, Tissage de France will produce 100,000 high-end jeans this year in its new workshop in Rupt-sur-Moselle (Vosges) after an investment of 800,000 euros.
The tricolor jeans inspire new business models like never before. It entered a new dimension on Tuesday April 5 with the inauguration of the FashionCube Denim Center, in the Mulliez galaxy. The key is jeans at 59.99 euros whose optimized manufacturing process limits the environmental footprint, and ensures production capacity on demand! Flexibility, efficiency.
Local fiber production and industrial projects
French textiles have come a long way. It is an industry shaken by an economic war that began long before the abolition of the devastating Chinese quotas, from 2005, and the grip of the “fast fashion” of Zara and other H & M. The sector employs nearly 100,000 employees, ie 7 times less than forty years ago. The French survivors of globalization are those who were best armed with traditional know-how and who knew how to produce differently in a context where the search for the right price still crushes the quest for ethical purchasing.
If inflation and the rise in the price of oil are of concern to manufacturers, the sector is also thinking of agriculture to reinforce relocation. Its linen sector is thus in full redeployment. “Beyond questions of price, agility and responsiveness are essential for the competitiveness of companies,” underlines Clarisse Reille, Managing Director of DEFI, Committee for the Development and Promotion of Clothing.
The recovery plan for the French textile industry is woven with good intentions, strong initiatives are multiplying. But sustainably increasing competitiveness requires, in this sector more than any other, a change in the industrial fabric.