The calendar indicates that it is February 2030, we are walking through the center of a European city and in its streets there is one or several shops of «Chinatex», the star brand of the fashion multinational from the Asian giant. The scenario described at the beginning of this text is fictitious, but could decline in real in the not too distant future, according to the report "The textile sector in 2018" of EAE Business School, where it is forecast that China is heading towards the creation of local brands that "will compete with low prices in the West and through fellow distributors". This process of the Asian giant started in the last century with the mass production of cheap fabrics, which years later evolved into agreements with major Western brands that sought to lower production costs. As the EAE study predicts, China paves the way to create its own local brands in order to control the entire production chain, including the design process and the creation of trends. This is coupled with its rising role as a consumer and the growth of its middle class, two factors that ensure a powerful market in which to sell their products in trial periods. In addition, even in the longer term, the Asian giant could go further and bet on the "creation of own luxury brands with local distribution in the West."
"The success of the oriental brands, and especially of China, is about to explode. It has already happened in telecommunications, let's think about Huawei, and the textile sector will not be less, "says Eduardo Irastorza, professor of the aforementioned report. "We still can not talk about any great Chinese fashion brand, but they will end up leaving the workshops where they work for Armani, Valentino, Inditex or H & M, among others. Europe no longer produces clothes in its factories and the Chinese are learning from their 'know how' in this business, "explains Irastorza.
Although there are already own fashion brands of Chinese origin implanted in Spain, they still can not stand up to textile giants such as Inditex, Mango or Primark. The emergence of these large multinationals will not take place overnight. The director of the International Master in Fashion and Luxury Marketing at ESIC, Rafael Pérez Arroyo, does not rule out an appearance that will occur "little by little". "These companies could compete at a price level, but the European fashion industry has enormous know-how and creativity," he says. "We will have to see what happens in the future, for the moment I do not see it as clear," he says.
At the moment, China already has a lot of livestock: The main country of origin of fashion imports in Spain with a total volume of more than 6.200 million euros in 2017, according to CESCE data. The country that operates as a factory in the world is also on the road to automation, a factor that could result in even more competitive prices and a faster production chain. This is what the director of the Retail Institute of Spain and Latin America, Laureano Turienzo, predicts. «Today artificial intelligence allows us to predict trends in style and consumption. The factories are being automated and we see how they fill with robots that sew and cut fabrics. Technology will allow us to manage a lot of data, "predicts Turienzo.
The director of Retail Intitute of Spain also speaks of a refinement in the production and tastes of the Chinese consumer. "China has begun to give up its image as cheap. We see how more and more products are being released to the market. And increasingly we see Chinese faces and celebrities in their ads when everything was Western before. Even many Western brands are launching local brands to incorporate Chinese aesthetics and traditions, "he clarifies.
The Alibabá online platform could also play a key role in this business, although at the moment it has not created its own banners. "The patents that we are seeing from Amazon for example, on the fashion sector, are absolutely disruptive, and predict that it will continue to be the largest fashion distributor in the West. The same will happen with Alibaba, but the big difference is that Amazon is creating its own fashion brands and Alibaba does not, "says Turienzo.
Fall in Spain
Meanwhile, in the Spanish textile sector there is a battle with other more current problems and focused on a deterioration of the business due to the constant discounts and the fall in turnover. The president of Acotex, Eduardo Zamácola, does not believe that Chinese competition is currently a threat to the stability of the sector and alludes to other matters of greater urgency "Last year was closed in Spain with a fall of 2.2% in income, these bad results had to do with the weather, but also with that the sector needs a restructuring. You can not sell swimsuits in February, fashion collections have to adapt to consumer preferences, "explains the president of the textile employers.
Professor Pérez Arroyo agrees with the employers' spokesman that in Spain there is a need for "a faster supply policy" in the launching of collections so that these are not subordinated to the four seasons. In addition, and due to the thrust of online commerce, «the physical store will have to evolve towards other newer forms» in which the customer's experience is taken into account. "The textile sector is not in crisis, but in a moment of transformation due to the change in behavior of the Spanish consumer," he says.