Vita Couture is a prominent Moroccan one-stop fashion platform that operates from design to logistics that you co-founded in 2013. Could you introduce the company and explain how it has evolved over the last decade?
I’m one of two partners that co-founded Vita Couture in 2013. The company’s growth has been very good and in double digits since 2013, except, of course, for 2020, due to the pandemic. We were just two people at the start and today we have expanded to a team of 100. We’re not a garment factory, where 100 people might seem a small number, we’re an industrial platform that offers a full one-stop-shop supply service to our customers. That means we are able to offer services covering the full supply chain to customers, from design to final garment delivery.
Today, most of our orders for the largest fashion brands begin with them picking designs or garments from our collection that our design team have developed. After that, everything that needs to be done is done by Vita Couture, from fabric and trim sourcing to buying, technical fitting and pattern making. We work with more than 25 partner factories and our quality control team monitors their manufacturing. Once production is completed, we take care of the logistics, and we’re able to deliver any kind of order to any kind of warehouse wherever it is in the world.
That full service is attractive for customers. They don’t need to buy their own fabrics or have a large in-house team of designers. Instead, they can focus on their strengths: marketing, retail, e-commerce and their brand’s DNA. Our approach has been very well received by our customers. Today, we’ve reached a capacity of more than 3 million pieces per year and we’re working on expansion projects.
“Morocco is one of the places to be in the world today in terms of international sourcing. Morocco has great assets—not only for the textile sector, but for all industries.”
We have a few other competitive advantages. The first is that we’ve worked hard to create quality services for the customer that run smoothly. We’ve worked a lot with all our teams so that customers can find solutions with Vita Couture, rather than problems or struggles. One clear example is that we are known as a company that can deliver with excellent quality service. Maybe more than 99 percent of our orders are delivered on time, which is very valuable for customers—they need to work with reliable suppliers. This is an advantage customers place a lot of value on, as they do to our flexibility. We understand how important it is for customers to be able to shorten lead times for sourcing and change anything in their orders up to the very last minute. So our internal processes have been built to be 100-percent flexible until the last minute and we’ve also made industrial investments to be able to achieve even greater flexibility.
For example, we’ve invested in a digital printing factory that helps us to be vertically integrated. Instead of being forced to import printed fabric from China, Turkey or Italy, as we used to do, today, we’re able to supply a very large proportion of our fabrics from our in-house factory. It’s a great strength for us, because it’s helped us to shorten lead times as we’re printing in-house and, of course, it gives even more flexibility to the customer—they can change the print they want to use until the last second.
And finally, another strength is that our design team is very strong, and they understand and embrace perfectly the needs of our European and American customers. For example, our collection that has been designed by Vita Couture is selected and put in store as it is by the most demanding brands. Customers know they can rely on us on the manufacturing and on the design side as well.
Vita Couture is a notable example of the ‘Made in Morocco’ brand. What would be your message to international investors about the advantages of sourcing, manufacturing, producing and exporting from Morocco?
I think we can easily say that Morocco is one of the places to be in the world today in terms of international sourcing. Morocco has great assets—not only for the textile sector, but for all industries. These include its excellent infrastructure and logistics systems. We have a very young population with a lot of energy that enables companies to hire more and more people and grow. There’s no limit to a business’ ability to grow in Morocco: from manufacturing to engineering design, you can easily find staff who are well educated and can be trained to achieve any level of quality or international standard. We’ve never seen so many different things being manufactured in Morocco before. When you see how many aircraft parts are now made in Morocco, or cars that are 100-percent made in Morocco—thing like this were a dream a decade ago and today they are a reality. When you see that companies like ours, for example, have managed to go from pure cut-make-trim manufacturing businesses and only one link in the supply chain, to being able to supply 100-percent of the chain, from design to final logistics delivery to the customer, that would have been a dream 10 or 20 years ago.
There’s so much energy in this country today and people are so energetic about developing things that global investors in any sector will find a good solution for their needs. Energy is the key word here, and sustainable energy at that. Morocco Now and other public partners are working with the same energy as the private and industrial sector to elevate ‘Made in Morocco’ to the highest level possible. I would encourage everyone to come to Morocco, you will love it, not only for work, but also for fun and travel.
The Moroccan Association of Textile and Clothing Industries has outlined a development roadmap for the sector called Dayem Morocco. What are the core pillars of this plan?
This roadmap is a vision for 2035 with specific steps. It’s a realistic vision with 10 steps and specific actions to be taken to reach its goals. It’s a vision that’s perfectly achievable and it’s a global vision for the Moroccan textile industry. But what does Dayem mean? Dayem is a Moroccan word that could be translated as ‘sustainable’ or ‘durable.’
Today, the textile industry is one of the major economic sectors in Morocco in terms of turnover and also the number of people working in the industry, which is 200,000, more or less. So, the textile industry is here to stay and it’s here to grow. But at the same time, this growth needs to be durable, it needs to be sustainable. Our choice of the word Dayem is perfect, because it emphasizes that Morocco’s textile industry is going to grow, but with the sustainability and the durability that international customers are calling for. Not only international customers, but also the domestic market that, for a long time, might have been a lower priority than exports. Now, both markets are just as important for the textile industry.
Your company has launched several impressive sustainability initiatives. Could you describe some of them?
Sustainability is not a trend; it’s reality and it’s something that’s important for end customers and for brands. We definitely shouldn’t waste any time in finding solutions and Vita Couture hasn’t waited. For example, Vita Couture’s headquarters and factories are fully equipped with solar panels and energy, which is a first step to decreasing our carbon footprint. Today, our headquarters and offices are almost carbon free, while we have invested a lot to drastically decrease our electricity needs in our factories. In addition, our digital print factory has an in-house water treatment plant to reduce water waste. Another thing that we’ve introduced is waste sorting in our manufacturing units, which is one of the first steps toward recycling, because we have different kinds of waste in the factories—plastic waste, was mixed with fabric waste and paper waste. The first thing we did was to create a process and a small team that was able to sort the waste in order to give value to it by recycling it. For example, now our plastic waste is treated by a recycling partner and transformed into plastic bottles, while our paper waste is separated into cellulose fibers.
New projects that are specifically important for our industry relate to anything that helps to achieve circularity in the textile ecosystem. Today, for example, what we are sorting and recycling is not necessarily coming back into the textile flow—mainly it’s recycled for other uses. But many projects are underway in Morocco to create a circular textile ecosystem in order to make the industry more integrated, circular and to reuse all its waste.
How do you plan to grow Vita Couture in the years ahead?
Much of our current strategy derives from what happened during the COVID-19 crisis. What we saw is that, even though the lockdown period was very hard for a lot of people, customers have realized Morocco can deliver flexibility and nearshoring with good-quality service, which has made the country a key player in supply chains and the new world textile map.
Having said that, first and foremost, our strategy is about market diversification. We are very strong in two markets: France and Spain. We have strengthened these markets and many customers in them are now reaching out to Vita Couture because they want to work in Morocco and with us. But we know that there are other markets interested in nearshoring their production and lowering their Far East production. So, as a first step, we’re expanding operations to Germany, the U.K. and the U.S., although we’re ready to take up all opportunities, of course.
The second step in our strategy will be to go further in terms of sustainability. Currently, between 60 and 70 percent of our fabric is sustainable and we should reach at least 90 percent of fully sustainable fabric, if not 100 percent, by next year. To reach this target, we need to be able to make sure our raw materials are sustainable and to anticipate things like fabric shortages or price increases. The last element in our strategy is diversification in terms of what we offer. Our goal is to reach a full women’s-wear offer for our customers.