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Interview with Marlene Oliveira from KIDS MODA PORTUGAL

Interview with Marlene Oliveira from KIDS MODA PORTUGAL
January 20, 2023


Interview with Marlene Oliveira from KIDS MODA PORTUGAL

Marlene Oliveira has a versatile and intercultural profile with extensive experience in the textile and fashion industry. Marlene Oliveira has been engaged in event promotion and fashion shows around the world since 1999. She is now head of the international department of the Portuguese organization “CENIT”. She is on a mission to promote the Portuguese fashion industry and its brands. KIDS fashion mag was curious about her goals with the KIDS MODA PORTUGAL project.

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CENIT -Textile Intelligence Center- is a non-profit organization founded in April 2007. It considers itself a “center of market and strategic intelligence” for the textile, clothing and fashion sector in Portugal. CENIT promotes and unites private projects and government initiatives and also provides information, training, events and project management and other specialized services.

Why did you start the KIDS MODA PORTUGAL project?

The production of children's fashion is very large in Portugal, more and more international brands, including Dutch, decide to house their production in Portugal and many of these factories also have their own brand. In fact, there are more than 40 Portuguese children's brands, mainly aimed at international markets, but they also serve the domestic market. So what this project wants to do is to promote the Portuguese ecosystem in terms of children's fashion.

But you started with 8 sustainable Portuguese children's brands. What does a children's brand need to participate in KIDS MODA PORTUGAL?

This is a pioneering project and we chose these eight brands, but we could have chosen others. These are probably the brands best known in Portugal but also internationally. We consider them the ambassador brands of the project, with different aesthetics but all very representative in terms of quality of production and with a clear message of sustainability.

The international sustainable guide consists of 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Are the member brands intended to integrate all these goals in the future?

Sustainability is about truthfulness, so we, and these brands in particular, are aware that these goals should be taken seriously and gradually. This is the chosen path and these are the objectives, so they are all working to stay true to this commitment and make progress on sustainability. But what is really important is that these concerns are incorporated into their day-to-day work and that changes are made to achieve more and more objectives.

Why exactly should Dutch retailers choose one of your Portuguese brands?

Design and quality. Those would be the most important deliveries that Portuguese brands can give. But Portugal is also known for their reliability and seriousness when it comes to fashion. The Portuguese brands are aware of trends and consumer needs, they integrate new technologies to provide the best products, they master the production because of our historical textile and manufacturing industry and they embrace the sustainability goals as their daily drive, so they are a very comprehensive and inclusive partner to work with.

Now you see a huge increase in scale worldwide, partly due to e-commerce, and small brands and retailers are disappearing. Smaller brands are also disappearing in the Netherlands because they cannot keep up with the purchasing requirements of margin, marketing budget and/or resale agreements.

Aren't you also afraid of some Portuguese brands? And maybe good to promote Portuguese production as well?

The children's clothing sector in Portugal is quite dynamic (more than 40 brands). In fact if I look back three to four years even with covid in between most of these brands are still in the market juggling the difficulties and adverse conditions but they are very resilient and have shown that they can adapt. They've also bet on e-commerce and we've helped them thrive. At CENIT we have some projects to help them in the international markets, but we also try to promote the sector as a whole and this new project KIDS MODA PORTUGAL is an example of that.

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