The Turkish Clothing Manufacturers’ Association (TGSD), one of the leading umbrella organizations of the Turkish textile and clothing industry, has a strong representation power with its 400 members that realize more than half of Turkey’s ready-to-wear clothing exports. The association has been leading the efforts for the clothing industry to become a world brand in terms of institutionalization, innovation, and sustainability for years. Switching to the two-chair ‘Joint President System’ with the last general assembly decision, TGSD once again reinforced its leadership mission with this breakthrough. TGSD Joint Chair of the Board of Directors Sanem Dikmen and Ramazan Kaya will assume the management of the association for two years. Stating that they implemented the principle of not discriminating against gender with the ‘Joint President System’, while not just leaving it in words, Ramazan Kaya evaluated the situation and emerging needs of the Turkish textile industry after the pandemic to Textilegence.
TGSD: “Digitalization, sustainability and eco-friendly production are a must for the industry”
Emphasizing that several global clothing and fashion brands, which are among Turkey’s business partners, will start to meet their supplies from sustainable sources as of 2025, Ramazan Kaya reminded that the EU, our biggest market in ready-to-wear, declared a zero carbon target within the borders of the Union in 2050 with the ‘Green Agreement’. In the light of all these facts, Kaya stated that the issues of ‘digitalization’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘environmentally friendly production’ appear as a necessity rather than a choice, and explained the advantages of the Turkish ready-to-wear industry possesses in these three areas compared to other competing countries:
“Parallel to the change in the global supply chain, the search for European-based brands to meet their needs from the near geography presents important opportunities for our industry. On the other hand, the US market, which has an annual apparel import of 100 billion dollars, promises great potential for our industry. Considering the demands that may arise in the coming period, we need to rapidly increase our current production capacity, which reached 86% before the pandemic. While establishing new factories on the one hand, we have to rapidly renew the technological infrastructure in our existing facilities on the other hand”.
“Government support is of great importance for digital transformation”
Stating that the need for technology and digital infrastructure has increased due to travel restrictions that started with the pandemic, Ramazan Kaya noted that there are infrastructure deficiencies in this regard in Turkey. Indicating that all existing incentives are based on buildings and people, Kaya said that the focus of government support should shift to digital change and transformation. Kaya stated that government support is very important for Turkey not to lose its speed advantage in the sector and to turn its geographical position into an opportunity.
Turkey closed the year 2020 with only 3.1% loss in exports
Underlining that 2020 is a year in which we once again experience the speed and adaptability of the Turkish ready-to-wear industry, Ramazan Kaya said that with the effect of the pandemic, there has been a contraction in both the foreign and domestic markets in ready-to-wear. Disclosing that world ready-to-wear exports, which was 493 billion dollars in 2019, decreased to 454 billion dollars, Kaya continued his words as follows:
“The turnover of ready-to-wear brands in the country has decreased by almost half. While the ready-to-wear market shrank, there was an extraordinary demand for protective clothing such as masks and overalls in the world. The speed and adaptability of our companies came into play here. In a few months, a large capacity for masks and protective clothing was created with an investment of over 3 billion TL. Turkey has become the second producer after China in this field. In 2020, we exported over 1.4 billion dollars of masks and protective clothing. Thus, we were able to minimize the contraction in ready-to-wear exports. We closed 2020 with a loss of only 3.1 percent in exports”.
Despite a serious loss in exports, the sector surprised with employment rates. Kaya stated that despite the fight against the pandemic, the number of employment in the sector, which was 592 thousand at the beginning of the pandemic, reached 633 thousand as of March 2021.
The decrease in export unit price continues
In addition to all these positive developments, Kaya said that the most important issue in the negative section is the continuation of the decrease in the export unit price per kilogram; “Unfortunately, the decrease in our export unit price in the last few years continued during the pandemic”.
Noting that there has been a significant increase in the prices of goods needed by the ready-to-wear industry since November 2020, Kaya explained that freight and logistics costs have increased four or five times, as well. Stating that production costs have also increased for this reason, Kaya said; “We have a hard time keeping a price. As a sector, we prefer to supply the raw materials and intermediate goods we need from local sources. However, our government should facilitate the supply of raw materials and intermediate goods abroad, which are not produced or insufficient in our country, and remove the additional tax walls”.
“Cotton should be declared a strategic product”
Ramazan Kaya said that Turkey still realizes 10% of the global organic cotton production; “Cotton should be declared as a ‘strategic product’ without wasting time in order to protect and increase our current exports. New incentive mechanisms that will make organic cotton production attractive should be developed”. Kaya also stated that the loan interest rates above 20 percent and the shortness of the maturities negatively affect the investment plans, and argued that serious investments will be made if the sector is offered loans with single-digit interest rates.
TGSD will hold the Istanbul Fashion Conference on October 6 under its new name
Explaining that they decided to change the name of the Istanbul Fashion Conference, which brings together the leading representatives of global brands in Istanbul, to ‘Istanbul Ready-to-Wear Conference’ in order to be more inclusive, Ramazan Kaya said; “On October 6, we will organize our 14th organization under the name of Istanbul Ready-to-Wear Conference. In previous years, we used to devote the second day of the conference to B2B meetings between our purchasing groups and our companies. This year, our conference will be broadcast digitally, as it was last year, due to the ongoing pandemic, and it will be held on a single day.