IN OPERATION SINCE 1998

Portugal 2019 | INDUSTRY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mário Jorge Silva, CEO, and Ricardo Silva, Head of Operations of Tintex Textiles, on competitive advantages, R&D investment, and the global textile industry.

What are the competitive advantages that Tintex leverages in order to succeed?

RICARDO SILVA: In 1998, TINTEX began its journey as a respected expert in the highest quality levels of dyeing and finishing techniques, which became the key asset and differentiating factor when these skills were blended into making smart, high quality and natural based, responsible jersey fabrics. With ecology and sustainability concerns front and centre of the TINTEX strategy, the company grew to become an industry leader and true master of all aspects of its textile heritage. By using the latest and best, sustainable hi-tech processes and inventing extraordinary new approaches for dyeing and finishing, TINTEX has reinforced its advanced vision to better supply the contemporary fashion, sports and lingerie markets. We create platforms that brands and our customers can utilize in the best way to transfer the message to the modern consumer.

How do you ensure the transfer of latest skills in the textile industry?

RS: To keep up with the latest technologies we always need to be at the forefront around the world and not just in Portugal. We source knowledge globally, looking for new technologies, processes and materials to learn what is new and to promote partnerships with other companies. That is our best strength currently because these companies believe in what we do, and together we create a better response for the market. With the knowledge from our partners we can transfer this expertise internally to our different teams in sales, production, and R&D. Tintex is committed to a continuous program of sustainable innovations and refinements throughout the processing, production and supply of better-made, nature based textiles. All this brought a 70% improvement in terms of environmental impact for all its resources, production, and processing.

What impact do your R&D investments have on being a best-in-class manufacturer of high-end jersey fabrics to climb up the value chain?

RS: Since the beginning, we have invested EUR26 million in total, with EUR7 million invested in the last three years alone. We are investing increasingly in the latest technologies. Our marketing activities focus on creating new materials and platforms to convey the message. We need to invest in all sectors in order to remain at the forefront of creating new trends. We do not follow trends, nor do we manufacture; rather, we create and innovate in Portugal. Unless we continue to invest steadily, there will come a time when our growth will stall. However, we have been innovating and developing since the very beginning and will continue to do so.

MÁRIO JORGE SILVA: We started innovating with Tencel and are the leaders in developing Tencel fabrics since 2002. Later, we evolved to polylactide (PLA) and other sustainable fabrics. Recently it was created a Textile Cluster in Portugal with several special interest groups (SIG), and we are proud to say that our sustainability manager, Ana Silva, is responsible for the coordination of the Sustainability Area. Last season we proudly announced our complete switch from the use of conventional cotton and the concomitant launch of a new fabric range that is the highest expression of the new generation of cotton: Naturally Advanced Cotton by TINTEX. This new amazing range is able to offer an advanced smart choice of three different premium and responsible advanced cotton solutions such as ECOTEC® by Marchi & Fildi, GOTS certified organic cotton and Supima. In addition to this, we announced the membership with Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) a not-for-profit organisation that exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector's future.

How does Tintex guarantee environmentally sustainable textile production to match contemporary consumers' needs and cooperate with institutions in the textile cluster?

RS: Millennials, new consumers, and the next generations want to have the most information possible on the products they are buying. They no longer buy just on price, but on the story. For that, we need to be fully traceable and transparent, which is one of the key aspects of sustainability. In addition, the environmental impact needs to be as low as possible, and we need to communicate this. That is why sustainability combines traceability with low environmental impact. Tintex has a sustainability manager, and we form partnerships with trusted suppliers. We can ensure the traceability back to the fibers throughout the supply chain to have full traceability. Trust is the most important thing, and we have earned the trust of our partners and customers. This way, we can have sustainable growth boosting our reputation and corporate identity. The growth in the business is always increasing. We no longer just sell more; we create base layers for sustainable growth using excellent aesthetics and low environmental impact.

How do you see companies like Tintex contributing to moving the sector forward?

RS: Two decades ago, Portugal was just a manufacturing country and, when the global industry moved into Asia and other areas, Portugal needed to evolve to differentiate from the market in order to adapt quickly. We understood that we needed to innovate to create different approaches to not only the product, but also the strategy and the service side. Today Portugal is an innovative country not just on the product side but on the service side as well. Our flexibility enables us to create innovative materials and technologies that suits contemporary consumers' needs. It is not easy to do; however, we adapt quickly and can be flexible with new products and business models as well. That is why the digitalization allows us to reduce lead times by 15-30% and why general and modern fashion is coming back to Europe, especially to Portugal. In the last year that is the big change we have seen in our customers around the world. They want to do everything in Portugal, including materials and manufacturing because of our great flexibility. They trust us and the quality of what we manufacture, resulting in our partners delivering the best garments at a competitive price.

MS: There is also a new generation of young people with excellent education. In a company like ours, we mix 10-12 different areas to bring new approaches and fresh ideas to help develop the concepts because it is always about differentiation. Moreover TINTEX Textiles is proud to activate change industry wide by taking part in the Make Fashion Circular initiative by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This initiative aims to collaborate and innovate towards a new textiles economy, based on the principles of a circular economy. Ellen MacArthur Foundation core partners, Burberry; Gap Inc.; H&M; HSBC, NIKE, Inc.; and Stella McCartney will work with the foundation to radically redesign the fashion industry. The initiative is made possible with the support of C&A Foundation and Walmart Foundation.

What are some of the markets or subsectors within the textile industry internationally that represent the best prospects for growth for Tintex going forward?

RS: Today labels look for high quality at 360°, meaning contemporary design, innovation and sustainability. We are the right partner for them to offer the above values both through basic and seasonal articles. In addition to this, we do not see ourselves just as suppliers but really as partners. We create a direct conversation with brands in order to offer articles that fits their needs within our collection. A clear example is Filipppa K, a leading Nordic fashion brand with a modern, smart approach to the responsible development of their lines, with whom we create also a joint communication in 2017. Indeed, some of their emblematic pieces: the Flowy Jersey Dress Spice and the Flowy Maxi Skirt Spice were both mindfully made from sustainable Lyocell by Tintex. Now, we need to adapt and be ready for the next five to 10 years without neglecting any segment. We had pure fashion, pure sport, and pure lingerie, and today we see a blend of the three. It is amazing to see this blend creating together different materials, diverse approaches to the market, and different brands growing in such a short time. The textile industry is amazing because of the way it constantly changes.

What would you say to people looking to do business with Tintex in Portugal's textile sector?

RS: Tintex is on its journey to be the leading company in terms of responsible innovation. This is a broad message that can be translated into the pillars of traceability and trust. We need to innovate on the materials side and always be visible to everyone. That is why we invite everyone to come and see with their own eyes our work. Fashion and textiles are about colors, image, perception, and feeling. The feeling is one of our top criteria when creating materials. We always create the best hand feel for everyone, and that is what we are acknowledged for today.

MS: We have exceeded all the expectations of our customers with our potential and our ability to develop together and surprise customers with our technology and our creativity. The TINTEX vision is to build a new generation textile business that truly delivers an eco-sustainable strategy for all its production and fabric innovations through dedicated investments in technology, assets and skilled teams of specialist staff.