This Tuesday, Portugal Fashion (PF) signed a memorandum of understanding between the National Association of Young Entrepreneurs, ANJE, the Catholic University of Portugal and the consultancy Deloitte, with a view to developing a strategic plan for the next three years. The idea is to find strategies to make the fashion event in Porto more financially stable, explains to PÚBLICO the director of the event, Mónica Neto.
This Tuesday’s meeting marks the start of the 52nd edition of the PF and the works, which are expected to bear fruit “in the coming months”. The strategic decision comes after ANJE threatened, last October, that it did not have the financial capacity to continue organizing the fashion week. The Minister of Economy and Sea, António Costa Silva, would end up guaranteeing the continuity of European funds to maintain the PF.
However, applications for Portugal 2030 have not yet started and ANJE looked for alternatives. “Catholic and Deloitte will conduct a reflection and diagnosis methodology to develop a strategic plan for 2023-2026”, informs Mónica Neto. The objective is to understand how the event can become more stable, increasingly approaching the industry and institutional partners and moving away from “the financial and bureaucratic instability that funds dictate”.
The work begins to be carried out this month and during April, with a diagnosis of the event, later working groups will be formed, says the Lusa agency: the “industry group”, composed of businessmen, managers, sectoral associations and investors, and the “fashion group”, composed of creators, buyers, influencers and journalists.
In May, the first conclusions and part of the strategy designed for the event to contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Portugal will be presented. The idea is that in October some of the “advice” will be applied, reveals Mónica Neto to PÚBLICO.
If the Portugal 2030 application is approved, it has retroactive effects — that is, ANJE can be reimbursed for what it invested. Even so, Mónica Neto recalls that the aim is for them to depend less on community funds and more on private investment — public money is especially important for the internationalization of designer fashion, such as participation in foreign fashion weeks.
“It is publicly known that community funds are a lever for a project. We are in a maturity phase and we are aware that there has to be a complementary strategy”, she asserts. It should be remembered that the PF has been trying to gain independence from the funds. Before this crisis, only 50% of the cost of each issue — around 900 thousand euros in total — was being supported by European money.
One more compromise edition
This edition, running until Saturday, March 18, is once again what the organization calls a “commitment”, carried out with a budget of just 450 thousand euros. “The expectation is that we can retroact when applications are opened, even so there is some degree of risk and we wanted to scale the event to that, while maintaining the marks”, he underlines.
These commitments are reflected in the reduction in the number of models, for example, but also in the location of the event. Instead of taking place at the traditional Alfândega do Porto, the parades will take place at Rua Latino Coelho, in a space known by Porto residents as Garagem Fiat. PF once again spreads fashion across the city, through ten events with commercial and retail partners, such as El Corte Inglès or NorteShopping.
The connection to the industry and the business side of fashion is what distinguishes PF from its sister event — ModaLisboa. In 2018, the two national fashion events signed a cooperation agreement, which remains, but no actions planned due to lack of funds, as it was focused on the joint internationalization of Portuguese designer fashion. “With no news about community funding, this action plan has an interregnum. We hope to respond to this action plan with the new funding”, promises Mónica Neto.
Connecting fashion designers to the industry, he argues, is a way of cementing “brand creation”, which Portugal “still needs to improve”. And he insists: “These are synergies that can give stability to author fashion.”
During the next four days, in Porto, there will be no shortage of well-known names such as Alexandra Moura, Diogo Miranda, Maria Gambina, Marques’Almeida, Pedro Pedro and Susana Bettencourt. The renowned Alves Gonçalves are absent from the calendar of 34 parades, who are developing a parallel project, linked to uniforms.
This Wednesday, the day is dedicated to new talents with the Bloom platform, “We need the energy of young people to get started”, highlights the PF director.
Of the ten events planned by the city, Mónica Neto highlights the presentation of the work of silk artisans from Freixo de Espada à Cinta, scheduled for Saturday, at the WOW museum complex, in Vila Nova de Gaia. “We want to show how fashion from modern Portugal can also promote innovation and creativity in terms of traditions”, she concludes.