Meet the factory printing the kidswear designs you’re wearing right now

Adalberto Estampados is not exactly an industry secret, but the remote location of this place and the volume of the product coming out of it (teamed with its very subtle social media presence) makes it feel like an insider’s secret.

To shed some light on one of the most hardworking factories in the business right now, I headed over to  take a behind the scenes look and enjoy a factory tour of Porto’s Adalberto Estampados, SA, which has been around for 50 years. The factory also has a design studio in-house so I met the full design team working on prints and patterns as well as taking a full tour of the facility (the print roller was mesmerizing). 

The head of the design department, Adalberto Faria, explained to us that in the past two years their kidswear production has jumped from just a few percent to about 10% of their total output.

They specialise in all-over prints for apparel and home with the highest percentage of fabric used being knit jersey, cotton flats and polyester blends. For kidswear they need to make sure everything is nickel-free and no harmful chemicals are used in the dyes and washes. I was shocked to see how clean and organized the factory was but if you have been around for 50 years, you have to be extremely organized and efficient to get the job done.

As the rollers spinned along, fabrics were being dyed and printed, and the assemblage of their latest and greatest printer called PEAC (only cost about 5.5 million Euros and is the second one purchased in Europe, nbd), he explained all about the process and the company’s success in kidswear production.

Q: Why is the factory increasing its kidswear output at the moment?

A: We’re seeing market demand in this sector, thanks to the continual growth of the kidswear market, we’re also seeing our biggest clients are now coming from this area.

Q: Who are some key retailers that are driving this, whether it be in house or other brands specific to kids?

A: Retailers include Zara Kids and other smaller brands in Belgium and Scandinavia.

Q: Where do you see the factory’s kids production going in the future, expanding or staying the same?

Well if it’s anything like the last 2 years, then growth. I think this production will expand, mainly because this category is gaining weight and real traction with the majority of the retailers/brands that we work with.

Q: Why is Portugal becoming a key place to produce printed materials?

We have a quick response to the market demands (as we are closer to the retailer/brand market), we supply short-term deliveries and smaller quantities/minimums, then personally for our factory we have a history of good quality products and being reliable in the industry (we have a distinct heritage).

Q: Why do brands seek you out to work with?

We have a quick response time, we use the latest technology in the textile printing. Plus, our design department can work closer with client demands. And of course, what I said before, our high quality of product and service.

Q: What types of dyes are used in the factory to make it appealing to children brands, are they gentler and less irritating?

Yes definitely. Portugal applies, as a member of the EU, to all regulation as any other UE member of safe chemicals to dye and print fabrics, and also in Europe almost all brands/retailer request that the suppliers have the OKO TEX standard 100 certificate. These regulations instill confidence when retailers are working with us.

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