In an era where environmental consciousness and ethical sourcing increasingly define consumer preferences, Turkey's apparel exporters are embarking on a transformative journey towards sustainability. Faced with formidable competition from Asian counterparts, Turkish manufacturers are asserting their commitment to prioritising sustainability over mere cost considerations. 

This resolute stance was underscored at the 'Transformation Journey of the Turkish Apparel Industry' conference held in Istanbul on January 9, where the Istanbul Apparel Exporters' Association (IHKIB) vocalised its vision for a sustainable future. Among the distinguished attendees were representatives from prominent international brands and Dirk Vantyghem, the director-general of the European textile confederation Euratex. 

Mustafa Gültepe, president of IHKIB and the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM), emphasised Turkey's unique position as one of the world's two integrated supply chains for apparel production, alongside China. Gültepe articulated the industry's commitment to aligning with environmental, social, and managerial standards while maintaining competitiveness in pricing.

This commitment aligns with Turkey's ambitious goal of doubling local apparel exports from $20 to $40 billion. However, achieving this objective necessitates bolstered support from European and American markets, which collectively drive the majority of Turkey's apparel exports. 

Despite Turkey's privileged access to the EU market, challenges persist, including fluctuations in demand and rising production costs. In response, Turkey recently implemented increased customs duties on various textile products, triggering concerns among local manufacturers about competitiveness. 

However, industry leaders remain undeterred, placing their faith in sustainability as the key to securing growth and maintaining relevance in the global market. Gültepe emphasised that true value extends beyond pricing, urging international brands to embrace sustainable practices in their collaborations with Turkish manufacturers. 

With approximately 45,000 enterprises contributing to 2 million jobs, Turkey's textile and apparel industry stands poised to lead the charge towards sustainable fashion, leveraging its position as a vital player in the global market.

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