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Agenda of Aegean Apparel Exporters’ Association

Agenda of Aegean Apparel Exporters’ Association amid Covid-19

As you know, our sector is having a hard time due to Covid-19. We felt the impacts of the outbreak intensely in our export figures especially in March-April and May 2020.

Due to high demand to PPE and increasing demand from e-commerce we have seen a fast upturn in figures at the beginning of this summer. Sustainability was the most important topic on the agenda of our Association.

Sustainability was an important topic for us even before the outbreak. We declared the year 2020 as the “Year of Sustainability” and established a “Sustainability Working” group to carry out our activities in this area. As for our projects, with the financial support of the Ministry of Trade, we will deliver technical consultancy services for our selected apparel exporters for the duration of two years to improve their sustainability performance. We are also in preparation for a project that we plan to receive support from European Union fundings.

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This project mainly aims to strengthen the entrepreneurship culture in our region among the 3rd and final year university students interdisciplinary and it will facilitate the transformation of sustainability-based business ideas in the fashion sector to endorse the establishment of successful start-ups. We will also continue to collaborate with relevant companies and institutions to develop new projects. Besides, we organise activities such as training and webinars in order to increase the awareness of our member companies in the field of sustainability to inform them about the latest developments and to increase their level of competence.

Just at the beginning of 2020, we hosted the Fashion Revolution Exhibition which was curated and produced by the Swedish Institute with the help of researchers and sustainable fashion experts. It was showcased during the biggest bride and groom wear exhibition in Turkey called “If Wedding Fair” between 21-24 January 2020 in İzmir. The fashion revolution exhibition highlighted the major environmental challenges currently faced by the global fashion industry and how it should aim to contribute more effectively towards initiatives in sustainability.

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Last but not least, we became a member of the United Nations Global Compact network in order to support our work in the field of sustainability, by doing so we aimed to bring new dimensions to our activities by participating in national and international networks and to communicate our commitment to sustainability more effectively.

Another important issue on our agenda is digitalization. We believe that it will be a component of our business in the post-Covid-19 era inevitably. We are aware of the importance of digitalization and aim to support the digital transformation of our members.

We usually would organize around 3 national participations to the international trade fairs, B2B meetings during a year. However, since the outbreak it has become impossible to conduct physical events due to Covid-19 so we focused on organizing virtual fairs, B2B meetings and webinars in order to adopt our members to the new order. We supported our 30 members’ participation at the Global Apparel Sourcing Expo digital fair which took place between July 15th and August 14th. We organize a digital B2B event to attract the interest of the Dutch buyers including the buyers of neighbouring countries which will be held between 23 to 30 October.

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Since 15 years, we have been organizing Fashion Design Competitions in order to develop the design culture in our region and to introduce talented young people to the industry. This year’s theme has been set as “TECH-TILITY” which relates to sustainability and technology. It is planned to finalize the contest during a virtual event for the first time this year considering the circumstances which hinder us from a physical gathering.

Recently we started to provide our members with a 360-degree photography service called E-shot. We believe it will help to improve our virtual events’, exhibitions’ and all e-trade transactions’ performance.

In addition to sustainability and digitalization technical textile is also one of our main point of interest. Turkey’s share in global technical textile export is around %1,6 in 2019. We aim to increase the technical textile exports of our 11 member companies. In order to do so, we established TEKSMER “Technical Textiles Research and Development Center” in 2014 to enhance the competitiveness of our members in the field of technical textiles. Priority fields of study and operations of TEKSMER are mainly Meditech (Medical textile, Biomedical textile, Hygienic, Health), Protech (Person and Propery Protection) and sports tech (sports and leisurewear). Our members continue to focus on medical textile exports and we try to support them with our project and activities.

The EU is and will be our most important trade partner for our textile and apparel exports. Being so we would like to inform you that we have recently started a marketing campaign called AHA! (Aegean Has Apparel) in Europe. We believe our B2B meeting including the Netherlands and the surrounding countries which will be held between 23 to 30 October, will open a new era for our interactions with Europe because we did not want to let the global pandemic conditions affect our business, that is why we decided to contact with our potential business partners virtually!

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