"The French textile industry is one of the cleanest in the world" #147


Interview with Paul de Montclos, President of the Vosges Terre Textile label and pioneer of the Fédération France Terre Textile, which now has a hundred of approved companies. “Alsace Terre Textile”, “Nord Terre Textile”, the various regional labels certify short circuit or all French productions: with strict specifications, it is the most demanding in the textile sector.

What does the regional label Terre Textile guarantee?

It guarantees consumers that 75% of the operations are made in the region or in France according to the label. The idea is to highlight the short circuit production of the textile industry since we are convinced that the future of the sector will not only be green but also territorial. To understand, we must take into account the fact that on the one hand it concerns very diverse markets (clothing, household linen, technical fabrics…) and on the other hand, it includes many different highly segmented trades: spinners, weavers, knitters, finishers, garment makers… And each of them is a little in its own corner. So you have to have a vertical reading of the process: all this was quite complex to coordinate and by creating France Terre Textile, we wanted to focus on the upstream part of the industry. The specifications are therefore based on a point system and include the creation of raw materials, weaving, finishing, knitting, garment making, logistics… We did not want to set the bar at 100% because we would have had too few labeled products. What we are looking for is above all to defend the textile industry by being intelligent: 75% of the operations carried out in France is a good level of reading for everyone, it is very virtuous and quite difficult to obtain. Finally, it’s above all consistent with the industrial landscape. Each company is also audited to check that traceability is correct.

However, the textile industry has a bad reputation…

It has a very bad image in terms of pollution however, the French textile industry is the cleanest in the world. The reason is very simple: we use electrical energy which is very little polluting since it is decarbonated and we are also extremely controlled on the use of water and chemicals with the European program REACH. So there’s no need to invent sophisticated economic models when all you need to do is guarantee a genuinely French product. This is the challenge for us to raise awareness among both public authorities and consumers so that they can be players and impose complete traceability on the industry. Where does the thread come from? The fabric? Where is it woven? Ennobled? Made? And according to all these elements, give an environmental, social, and ethical performance indicator.

Is it possible to find 100% French products in the textile sector?

It is possible yes, but it is relatively marginal. We have to be clear, we are not producers of raw materials, nor of oil, so that eliminates a lot of leads. There are a lot of brands that use local names when they don’t produce locally, or not very locally: it’s a marketing matter that you have to be careful. So there are three categories: a “made in-washing” which has no concrete value, the “made in” mention which is not quite complete and then the labeling. You have to be able to combine all of these.

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