On February 6th, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the Southern regions of Turkey, and not even nine hours a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck 95 kilometers southwest. The first earthquake has gone on record to be the country’s strongest striking earthquake in history, but together unfortunate catastrophic damage occurred. More than 50,000 people were killed, 3 million displaced, and 10 million are left in need of urgent aid. Accounting for the millions affected, the textile industry has gone under huge consequences—home to the globe’s sixth largest apparel supplier.
There are four main factories within Turkey, two within the Gaziantep region that were disturbed from the earthquakes. These factories house recycled yarn and fibers set to produce apparel for Nike, Puma, and H&M, among other international partners. The factors affected were distribution facilities, transportation routes, and labor forces. Textiles produced in the affected regions accounted for 30% of the country's textile exports in 2022, with a value of $3.4 million. And, apparel exports overall account for 2.6% of Turkey’s total apparel exports, representing $565 million in value.
Kipas Tekstil, owned by Kipas Holding and one of the main factories, has a production rate of 100 million meters of annual fabrics and employs 5,700 people. The earthquakes have resulted in an economic loss of $1 million, as well as 900 workplaces damaged, 232 demolished buildings, and 100,000 of the local workforce remain missing. Several of the other facilities had to temporarily shut down due to significant building damage. Supplier, Gama Iplik, delivers to more than 30 countries, had to find alternate transportation routes and settled to switch exports to Mersin Port about 300 kilometers away. Their brand partners are yet to offer direct support, but according to the published source, they have been flexible with delays.
Brands and retailers sourcing from these areas are now being reminded of the inevitable increase in climate and natural disasters. This is also heightening the idea of a strong supplier relationship to ensure the sustainable stability of the environmental, social, and financial futures in the fashion industry. Brands are having an increased duty to bring that stability to their supply chains and consumers.
“When supply chains are disrupted, transactional brands cancel orders and vanish to another production country, but relational brands support suppliers and their workers emotionally, which results in loyalty. We’re not talking about millions of euros or anything complicated — brands just need to provide emotional support to the people experiencing trauma, and keep orders constant so they can recover financially,” stated Turkish co-founder of the Fashion’s Responsible Supply Chain Hub (FReSCH) and Assistant Professor at Cardiff University, Dr. Hakan Karaosman.
As the industry has focused on repairs, there has been a 1.8% drop in exports. The loss of facilities don’t seem to be the spoken problem in these regions, it is the large decrease in employees–whether from disappearance or transferral to other operative regions, the work force has taken drastic hits.