When they started putting together their first backyard textile factories, 32 years ago, the citizens of Imbituva, a municipality 180 kilometers away from Curitiba, in Brazilian southern state of Paraná, had no clue of the size that the initiative would gain.
Presently, the 50 textile factories in the city comprise one of the twelve existing Local Productive Arrangements (APLs) in Paraná, generating 500 direct and indirect employment positions in the region, and the factories are preparing themselves to enter the foreign market.
The companies that integrate the Imbituva APL, most of which are family businesses, specialize in the manufacture of knitted garments.
On a monthly basis, thousands of items such as pullovers, skirts, blouses and coats for adults and children leave the production lines to supply stores and boutiques in Paraná and other Brazilian states.
The city has become a national reference in the segment. Femai-Fest – the Imbituva Textile Fair – is attended by 40,000 people each year, including exhibitors, store owners, and consumers from all over the country. The first edition of the event took place in 1985.
Products made in Imbituva enjoy widespread acceptance in the domestic market, but the industry has a problem: due to the fact that knitted textiles are appropriate for winter clothing, orders decrease during summer.
Exporting would solve the problem, because when the weather is hot in Brazil, it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa. The foreign market would be the ideal alternative for maintaining a stable stream of revenue throughout the year.
"Exporting would be the solution," says Geny Iarema, manager of APL. "We envision a great future."
In order to do so, local businessmen are turning to institutions such as Federation of Industries of the State of Paraná (Fiep), the Euvaldo Lodi Institute (IEL), the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae) and the Union of Textile and Weaving Industries of the State of São Paulo (Sinditêxtil).
Other actions for fostering competitiveness include participating in and promoting fashion workshops, and getting support from specialized advisors.
Thanks to these, textile factories from Imbituva are directly linked to the novelties in the sector, and consumers are dressed in accordance with the latest trends from the Milan and Paris catwalks.