Morocco plans to grow fast fashion exports

yarn-pixabayWith sights set on nearby European markets and even the USA, Morocco is on its way to create a fully-integrated textile and garment industry from spinning to final product within 15 years

This was disclosed by the Mohammed Tazi, director general of Morocco’s clothing and textile industry association AMITH (Association Marocaine des Industries du Textile et de l’Habillement). According to Tazi, the Moroccan government and industry would work to create backward linkages supporting a fast fashion segment serving Europe’s nearby markets, and a Moroccan fashion segment for domestic consumers drawing on strengths in Morocco-based design and traditions.

Preparatory work and investments would be made until 2020, after which the government and industry would accelerate building a textile and clothing value chain.

It has been reported that AMITH has been working since 1996 to bring together different areas of the industry. According to Tazi, fast fashion is currently very important. The textile and garment sector were reported by AMITH to account for nine to ten per cent of GDP in 2014. AMITH and the government want this industry to grow to 13 per cent of GDP over the next five years. It already accounted for 20 per cent of all exports by value in 2013. As for the Moroccan market, the association wants to create fashion brands utilising traditional Moroccan and African styles, cuts and sizes.

Meanwhile, Spain’s Inditex Group has been a long-term important client for around 150 Moroccan garment producers. “100mn pieces were made for Inditex in 2014 alone,” Tazi informed. Spain accounts for 38-40 per cent of Morocco’s fast fashion export sales, followed by France, the UK, Germany and Italy.

Also, a potential growth market is the USA. Tangier-based garment producer Salsabile, which manufactures for UK brands such as Topshop and Marks & Spencer, is looking for sales from the USA. “This last year we started two big projects: we began exporting to American Eagle in the US and our brand Yamanda, which sells primarily to Moroccan women,” said Redouane Lachgar, the company’s commercial and development director. The need is for foreign investors. “If Turkish or Chinese investors come here, it is possible. With China we need to make a partnership to sell to their customers in the area of fast fashion,” he added. Indeed, Tazi claimed sourcing giant Li & Fung is currently exploring the creation of a Moroccan base.

Currently, the weakest points in Morocco’s value chain are yarns and fabrics, although there is established expertise in woollens and denim-weaving in Meknes, near Fes-based weaver Sefita, which sells to Marks & Spencer and to clients across northern Europe. According to Tazi, cotton and synthetics spinning, circular knitting and weaving are target growth areas while the development of eco-fibres such as agave and bamboo would be explored. Currently, most fabrics are imported from China or Turkey and, for Morocco-based brands and manufacturers, gaining access to affordable good quality fabrics is challenging.

There is also a lot of enthusiasm for the burgeoning domestic market, especially the haute couture tradition of kaftan making. Moroccan women’s fashion magazines regularly feature fashion shoots featuring highly embellished luxury kaftans which can cost around US$6,800. Djellabah (a traditional Berber long coat with a pointed hood) is another design, with the younger generation wearing updated versions using contemporary fabrics and even mini-Djellabahs.

The traditional clothing market is currently 50 per cent of the domestic market and Tazi expects its annual value to grow to around US$7.4 bn.

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