Turkish fashion manufacturers in earthquake-affected areas resume production

Garment factories in the cities of Malatya, Elazıg and Sanliurfa are back in operation, while the impact on textile mills in Kahramanmaras and Adiyaman is currently “minor”, according to the Turkish Garment Manufacturers Association.

Infrastructure in industrial zones has been generally less affected by earthquakes this month than in residential areas, with most plants in relatively good condition, according to a statement published this week by Cem Altan, president of the International Apparel Federation (IAF) and vice president of the Association Turkish Garment Manufacturers (TGSD).

According to Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, two major earthquakes struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6, killing more than 47,000 people in both countries.

“We are working with our members and stakeholders to identify and address real needs in the region,” Altan said. “Short-term production cuts are inevitable, but all stakeholders are working together to restart plants for social and economic reasons.”

Altan added that the Turkish textile and clothing industry will use the additional production capacity built in 2021 and 2022 in the short term. For example, the country increased its yarn and fabric production capacity by 25 percent last year thanks to new investments. As a result, the lost capacity in the earthquake-affected areas is being replaced by the capacity of other cities outside the affected area, such as Bursa, Istanbul, Tekirdag and Denizli.

The Turkish government has started supplying water, electricity and natural gas to some of the affected cities, and airports have resumed operations. Temporary container-built communities are being built around industrial zones to stop labor migration.

The epicenter of the first earthquake was near Gaziantep, a Turkish city of more than two million people in the Southeastern Anatolia region. While the Turkish fashion industry is mainly concentrated elsewhere, including Istanbul and Ankara, where companies are headquartered, and clothing and textile manufacturers are based in the provinces of Bursa, Izmir and Denizli, Gaziantep and other affected provinces in neighboring regions also have large importance for this sector.

According to a report by consulting firm Ikada, most of Turkey’s textile exports in 2017 came from Istanbul province, but the severely affected provinces of Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras are secondary centers of industry, while the nearby provinces of Adana and Kayseri also have a significant production footprint.

As part of their nearshoring efforts, global brands have shifted most of their sourcing and production to countries such as Turkey in recent years. H&M Group and Zara owner Index were among the many fashion brands contributing to the country’s humanitarian crisis earlier this month.

According to the Fibre2Fashion report, the Turkish textile industry exported $16.2 billion in 2021 and was the fifth largest supplier in the world, while the garment industry exported $18.3 billion and was the fourth largest in the world.

Learn more:

The economic crisis in Turkey hits retailers, boosts clothing exports

The national currency, the lira, has lost nearly half its value against the dollar in 2021 due to rising inflation.

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