The TEX-MED ALLIANCES project ends with nearly 70 new alliances between Mediterranean textile companies
Cairo was the city chosen to host the capitalization forum and the final conference of the EU-funded project TEX-MED ALLIANCES. The event was organized by the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce - AHK, the Egyptian partner of the project.
During 2 days, 4th and 5th of October 2022, nearly a hundred textile professionals from companies from the 7 countries involved in the project (Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, Greece, Spain, Jordan, and Italy), discussed the program's results, which started in 2019.
The TEX-MED ALLIANCES project started its journey in 2019. Theoretically, the project has had 3 years to implement the initial objectives. In reality, however, TEX-MED ALLIANCES have only had half the time. The health crisis caused by COVID-19 brought many activities to a standstill and they could not be resumed until 2021. That's one of the ideas explained by Mrs. Susanna Leonelli, coordinator of the project: "we had to solve many problems and, in reality, we only had one year to implement the initiatives we had set out with the TEX-MED ALLIANCES project. But, finally we succeed".
The lead partner of the project is Texfor, the Spanish textile industry Confederation. Its project director, Mrs. Monica Olmos, declared that "despite the covid lockdown, we took the opportunity to be more creative and design tools to help the textile industry value chain in this very difficult time". Mrs. Monica Olmos closed the final conference telling that "one by one, all initiatives we have implemented have allowed the participants to improve in different aspects of their businesses. The network created has increased business cooperation among micro, small and medium enterprises, sharing experiences, sharing knowledge, and improving in technical skills, processes, or sales opportunities". Olmos highlighted that "we started the project as a consortium of partners and we are finishing it as a group of friends working to reach a common goal, the improvement of the Mediterranean textile industry".
Initiatives and successes of TEX-MED ALLIANCES
One of the situations that TEX-MED ALLIANCES aimed at correcting was the lack of equal relations between the textile industry in the north and south of the Mediterranean. Until now, the relationship was established as clients or subcontracting by European companies of southern Mediterranean companies to produce textiles and fashion for major brands. During the presentation of results, Mr. Francesco Pellizzari, head of technical assistance at TEX-MED ALLIANCES, highlighted that "the initial objective we set ourselves was to achieve a minimum of 25 equal partnerships to cooperate on joint programs. We have gone from 0 to 68 equal alliances of SME companies in the Mediterranean basin. this is a success of the project".
During its 3 years of implementation, TEX-MED ALLIANCES has worked hard to develop initiatives to boost 3 fundamental aspects: innovation, internationalization, and circular economy in the textile sector of the Mediterranean basin. To achieve this, 4 initiatives have materialized:
TheMedNew, a new brand for a sustainable and ethical Mediterranean fashion
TheMedNew is an umbrella brand and platform for Mediterranean fashion. In just one year, has managed to bring together 35 members. In the words of the Fashion and International Marketing Manager of TEX-MED ALLIANCES, Mr. Hani Mourad, "the project objective was to put in partnership along the textile and clothing chain: designers, yarn and fabric producers, finishers, clothing manufacturers, marketing operators, like influencers, sellers, exhibitors, etc., to create alliances". The main feature of TheMedNew is its Manifesto that any company that wants to be part of this initiative has to accept, apply and share. As explained Mr. Mourad, "our members adhere to the manifesto of the brand, hence becoming more socially accepted as a "good" brand. That means to produce under the principals of sustainability, sensitivity to the environment, fairness in treating workers, anti-racist, supporting ethnic culture, etc.), hence improving their social appeal".
But beyond the words, objectives, etc., what is really interesting about the project is the stories of the people and the new ideas and projects that have been born. One of the stories of business alliances inspired by TheMedNew is the one between designers Konstatinos Tsigaros from Greece, Júlia G. Escribá from Spain, and Jordanian clothing company SheChocolate. The three companies pooled their ideas and strengths to design a fashion collection that was exhibited at one of the editions of 080 Barcelona Fashion Week.
Júlia G. Escribà has been the first initiator of TheMedNew. During the capitalization forum in Cairo, she declared that "the most interesting thing about projects like this is the human relationships that are established. We wanted to do something different that would have an impact and we wanted to do it with people who share the same values. I think TheMedNew is proof that collaboration is the way. Working together we can solve problems". For Julia, with this project, "we achieved a lot of synergies, we shared a lot of resources, we've overcome a lot of obstacles. Thanks to TheMedNew we've increased our community. This project is an example of the future or the utopic future of the textile industry. How we've created a lot of mean full experiences I've never seen before. With all this, now we're telling stories with clothes".
Another remarkable alliance is the one established by the Spanish companies, Tejidos Jesús Rubio and Silvia Calvo Barcelona. The long experience and know-how in yarn production and recycling of Tejidos Jesús Rubio combined with the innovative project of Silvia Calvo, who makes designer clothes by recycling coffee bags, resulted in the creation of new jute-based yarn.
TheMedNew aims to enable member companies to improve their international competitiveness. To this end, in addition to a €10,000 grant to develop their ideas, Technical assistance is offered to them to achieve good brand design, cohesive, commercially viable color schemes, creating a brand image through humanitarian concerns (environment, recycling, social justice, sustainability) and also, enhancing the products through the use of technical textiles, interesting finishing processes, like anti-bacterial, dirt, resistance, etc. The Greek fashion brand, Konstantinos Tsigaros was born shortly before the launch of TheMedNew. One of its founders, Nikos Tsigaros is very grateful for what it has meant to be part of the trans-Mediterranean program: "Thanks to the project and our participation in it, we were able to work out the goals of the program for which we joined. We created a new collection, - Κ7 Konstantinos Tsigaros -, took part in the Athens Fashion Trade Show, and achieved excellent sales results of the collection and placements in stores in Greece, Cyprus, Beirut, and Budapest. At the same time, we have sent the lookbook of the collection to stores in London and Amsterdam. We hope that the journey of the collections has started with the best prospects". Mila Fibres from Spain highlights that "for us, it has been a magnificent experience, it has helped us a lot in the development of a new product, and our project partner, Texfor, through Monica Olmos, has been by our side at all times, giving her support and recommendations".
Health Textile Digital Cluster: A knowledge platform for textile innovation
The TEX-MED ALLIANCES project started almost at the same time as the Covid pandemia. In the words of Mrs. Monica Olmos, project manager of the lead partner, Texfor, "with the Covid, all changed. Textile companies changed their priorities. Many of them started to develop health products to bring help the general health emergency. This was the initiator of the Health Textiles Digital cluster of the Mediterranean - HTDCM". During the pandemic, there was a lack of information about where and how to find health textile products in Europe and the Mediterranean area. To solve this, Texfor created a health textile production capacity database. This company directory contains a list of more than a hundred SMEs working on health textiles covering the whole value chain.
This cluster, led by the Tunisian technology center MFC pole, also a partner in the TEX-MED ALLIANCES project, has the core mission of ensuring quick, effective, and qualitative responses in case of pandemics, emergencies, and any other situation that requires good products and quick delivery. Also, HTDC has the objective to be accredited as a system of suppliers by institutional and private buyers of the sector to be shortlisted for tenders of public procurement (National Health Systems) as well as in bids of the private health sector. Another remarkable characteristic is that this is a cluster of SMEs that are remotely connected by the internet that can cooperate and mobilize together in marketing strategies - promotion and sales - targeting Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa markets.
The announcement of the creation of the cluster attracted a great deal of attention from the Mediterranean textile
world. The HTDC was launched on May 2022 in a symposium held by MFC Pole, one of the partners of TEX-MEX ALLIANCES in Tunisia, with more than 1.000 participants and over 60 B2B meetings. Before that, the TEX-MED ALLIANCES team recruit a group of experts to help companies in developing new projects and foster their position in the international market, etc. The digital cluster is hosted on a website that contains all the information and links necessary to help companies.
Several companies have already reported that they have used the cluster's services to certify their products with very good results. So it seems that the HTDCM is a good idea and has been congratulated, for example by the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms. Mrs.Elisa Ferreira posted on her Twitter account: "Another success story of EU-funded cooperation in the Mediterranean for new textile business lines, that adapted to COVID emergency for production of masks, protective gloves and clothes. Thank you!".
Dyeing small batches: new machinery to help SMEs
The TEX-MED ALLIANCES project detected that SMEs often had problems in the finishing and dyeing process because they work with small quantities of fabric or even samples. Finishing companies ask for minimum quantities of fabric for dyeing, which exceeds what is needed by small and micro enterprises. To solve this handicap, TEX-MED ALLIANCES provided material support and technical assistance for the successful implementation of the de Dyeing Small Batches initiative. The leader of this initiative is the Tunisian partner, Cettex - Technical Center of Textile.
Cettex offered to coach for the benefit of companies, technological transfer and exchange in the Mediterranean zone, and technical assistance in dyeing small batches. Also, organized 3 technical thematic seminars to improve professional skills and knowledge in dyeing finishing. According to Cettex regional director in Monastir, Tunisia, Rym Charradi, "the activities organized for the Dyeing small batches initiative were attended by more than 360 participants, including face-to-face meetings and online technical assistance sessions. More than 70% of the textile professionals who attended these activities said they were fully satisfied with the information and knowledge they received".
But what will happen to all the work done with the Dyeing Small Batches initiative once the TEX-MED ALLIANCES project is over?
During the final conference, the head of technical assistance, Mr.Francesco Pellizzari stated that "the dyeing machines are in Tunisia. We have to install more machines like those of Cettex to establish a good technical assistance service for dyeing in small batches, especially for SMEs, in different Mediterranean countries".
Circular economy - Leftovers platform
To stimulate textile production in the Mediterranean according to the premises of the circular economy, TEX-MED ALLIANCES' Italian partner, Confindustria Toscana Nord, has created a digital platform, based on a Facebook profile. This virtual space, called the TEX-MED ALLIANCES Leftovers platform, offers a simple system for buying and selling fabric stocks. Yarn and fabric-producing companies publish photos with technical data sheets of their surpluses, while clothing companies can view the sample book and buy high-quality material at more affordable prices.
Up to now, the Leftovers platform on Facebook has reached almost 400 members, including 35 corporal accounts. About 1000 posts were published, including about 800 photos of fabrics.
And, what about the future?
The TEX-MED ALLIANCES project, according to the management team, has achieved considerable success. This project is a continuation of an earlier one called TEX-MED Clusters. According to Mrs. Monica Olmos, project manager at Texfor, the lead partner of the project, "TEX-MED ALLIANCES was conceived to go one step further, to build synergies and real collaborations in the textile value chain to improve competitiveness through internationalization, innovation, and circular economy".
we will have to share the idea of the future of all the initiatives we've materialized. Before ending definitively the project, at the end of 2022, we'll find a way to share the ideas of all partners and companies involved in the project and make decisions".
The Cairo forum and conference officially bring TEX-MED ALLIANCES to an end, but the final closure is planned for the end of 2022 when the appropriate decisions have been taken to keep the initiatives that are undoubtedly effectively helping textile SMEs in the Mediterranean.
Finally, we share with you photos of some moments of the event held in Cairo.