The Atlantic France region is undoubtedly a leading territory in the fashion market. Historical birthplace of footwear, big names in ready-to-wear and luxury leather goods are located in the territory, especially in Maine-et-Loire. Here, the industry can rely on unparalleled know-how in France and on an ecosystem conducive to innovation. In Atlantic France, the integration of new technologies and new digital tools is a reality. A digitisation that has shifted production and clothing tools into a new era: fashion 4.0!
Some data on the fashion sector in Atlantic France
The fashion sector in Atlantic France represents nearly 12,200 employees in more than 220 companies, within the following sectors:
- Leather production and goods: 34%
- Tailoring: 29%
- Textiles: 21%
- Footwear: 13%
- Other: 3%
The region, and more particularly the area of Cholet, is the principal industrial centre of clothing in France. 80% of fashion businesses in Western France are concentrated within a radius of 100 miles around Cholet. Major players are based here, such as CWF (children’s fashion), Mulliez-Flory (clothing for professional use) and the Eram Group (shoes). The leather-goods sector currently creates the most jobs in Atlantic France, as evidenced by the establishment of major brands in the region, such as Longchamp and Louis Vuitton.
In support of the sector, a wide range of training courses, a rich ecosystem and dense networks contribute to the development and influence of the fashion market in Atlantic France. Examples of regional groupings include:
- Mode Grand Ouest: brings together 110 companies in the textile and clothing sector
- Fédération Française de la Chaussure: professional union of shoe manufacturers and subcontractors
- Réseau du Bellay: brings together around twenty companies from Maine-et-Loire in the luxury-service sector
Innovation and confection of the future
Thanks to research, innovation, experimentation and prototyping, the sector has now entered a new era: that of fashion 4.0. Atlantic France plays a major role, with the support of the regional council and numerous funding programs.
eMode, a unique support system for innovation and creativity
This platform brings together (in one place: Cholet) skills, talent and technologies which are based around the creation and technical development of products related to the world of fashion, design and decoration. A space for experimentation and training, eMode supports all project leaders. Thanks to its FabLab, which is open to all, resources and equipment can be shared.
InnoFabMod, an experimental project serving the fashion sector
The InnoFabMod project aims to measure the impact of new production technologies on the competitiveness of companies. It is supported by the French Institute of Textiles and Clothing (IFTH) which is based in Paris, but which is also located at the Technocampus Composites in Bouguenais (44).
Funded with an amount of €3 million by the Atlantic France regional council, this project is unique in France. All of the following innovations are analysed in order to measure their impact on productivity and working conditions: digitisation of processes and resources (particularly inventory control and management), automation of manufacturing and assembly processes, design of prototypes (e.g cobots and production lines).
6 “pilot” companies of Atlantic France are taking part in this experiment: Confection Fléchoise, Femilux, Getex, Macosa, la Société Choletaise de Fabrication and Textile du Maine (TXM).
Textile du Maine company, an example of R&D to follow
Textile du Maine is a living heritage company based in Montilliers (Maine-et-Loire) which specialises in women’s ready-to-wear clothing along with remarkable, haute-couture houses. It has just acquired a prototype dedicated to machine vision (or artificial vision). Thanks to this equipment, the anomalies of a fabric are identified and listed before a garment is made. A second tool, called Lectra, allows the cutter to use only flawless parts of the fabric.
These two pieces of equipment, representing an investment close to €400,000, were co-developed within the framework of the InnoFabMod project. This project had also enabled the development of previously used digital tools within this sewing workshop, including a pattern projection system (in order to eliminate paper patterns).
A dynamic and job-creating sector
The fashion and textile sector is experiencing significant growth in Atlantic France. The news in recent months has confirmed this dynamic, with many players who are in a job creation phase. In the leather goods sector – where 90% of employees work for luxury goods in Atlantic France – more than 1,800 people have been recruited over the past 10 years. A trend that is still going strong today more than ever before!
Those who recruit and invest:
- Longchamp, a luxury leather goods manufacturer, is launching a vast recruitment campaign for its sites in Atlantic France: Segré (Maine-et-Loire), Château-Gontier and Ernée (Mayenne), as well as Pouzauges (Vendée). The manufacturer is targeting 100 new employees, mainly in production.
- Femilux, specialising in the manufacture of high-end ready-to-wear clothing, announced the creation of a hundred jobs at its site in Brûlon (Sarthe) within three years.
- The AAIMS Group from Cholet, a manufacturer that works for prominent French luxury houses, has just injected €3 million into the digitisation of its leather goods and ready-to-wear workshops.
- Sophan (AAIMS Group) has taken possession of the extension of its workshop in Segré which covers 2,000 sqm. The leather goods manufacturer thus doubles its production area and plans to recruit new employees to support the development of its business.
Successful establishments in Atlantic France
- Louis Vuitton and its 6,000 sqm workshop in Beaulieu-sur-Layon (Maine-et-Loire)
- Noras and its new site in Villaines-sous-Malicorne (Sarthe)
- Les Ateliers FIM and its installation in the area of Laval (Mayenne)