We think that antibacterial and antivirus fabrics and apparel products will enter our lives more.

As the president of UHKİB, one of the leading troops in our country, especially in ready-to-wearexports,couldyoutellabout both yourself and your work as UHKİB?

Our Uludağ Ready-to-Wear and Apparel Exporters Association (UHKİB) was established in 1986 within the scope of Uludağ Exporters’ Associations. Our association has 730 members in total by 2020. Our association realized an export of 685 million dollars in total last year. The main countries in our exports are; Spain, Germany, UK, Netherlands and Belgium. Our ready-to-wear and ready- made industry perfectly meets the demands of the European continent, which demands the world’s highest material, production, quality and health standards. 80% of our total exports are made to the European continent. In this period, our primacy is for our companies to survive the process without any damage.

While we take measures in line with their requirements, we also work on concepts such as virtual fairs and virtual trade committees. In line with the process, we carry out certification studies for production facilities and exchange ideas and informations over possible scenarios. With online meetings and trainings, we try to get over the process harmlessly and to switch to the new normal in the fastest way.

The Covid-19 epidemic is currently on the top of the world agenda and apparently will continue to be so for a while. How were you affected by this process?

Just like all sectors, our sector was negatively affected by the epidemic. The decline in orders affected both our exports and our production. Although we took the necessary precautions regarding production as sector, the decrease in demand caused us to slow down the production. Of course, as the sector, we did not stay idle in this process and we showed the strategic importance of the textile and apparel industry again, focusing on the production of masks and personal protective equipment for both our country and the world.

EU and European countries, which are the most important markets in textile and apparel exports, and the USA are the countries that are most affected by pandemics. When is the nearest return to normal and do you expect a differentiation in demands and product variety compared to the past?

It is thought that the second half of 2020 will pass with normalization and everything will start from the beginning in 2021. Our forecast is also in this direction. We expect the wounds to heal in 2020 and things to go back to 2021. Of course, it does not mean that we will do things as we did before. Different expectations, from the technological properties of the fabric to its packaging, have already emerged, and we have focused on R&D activities in this direction both in our own company and in our member companies.

What do you think will be the “new normals” that will enter our lives after Covid-19? What changes do you foresee especially in trends, production, preferences and designs?

We think that antibacterial and antivirus fabrics and apparel products will enter our lives more. Similarly, masks will be a part of our lives for a while. Mask selection will be made according to the clothes combinations. Production facilities were prepared for earthquake and fire, but the pandemic was not included in our action plans. In the next period, production facilities have to include more social distance and more automation in production.