The sports and textile industry in the Basque Country

Picto Sport and textiles

Numerous fashion and textile companies are already well established in the Basque Country such as Quiksilver, Volcom, HOPAALl and Tribord. These surf-inspired companies draw their strength and competitive advantage from the region’s scenery. With the ocean and mountains as their backdrop, they can get closer to consumers, test their products in real-life situations and find employees who genuinely share the same values.


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Textiles and the boardsports industry: expertise from the Basque Country

Tribord, a Decathlon brand that was established by BASQUE INVEST, has seized all the opportunities offered by the Basque Country. Its R&D teams and departments are based in Hendaye in the premises of the port’s former fish auction. With their waterside location, acting as the world’s largest open space office, its engineers, product managers, designers and prototype manufacturers are able to design and test future products, as close as possible to users and their needs.

Basque textile expertise has been deeply rooted in local culture for many years, from household linen and espadrilles to fabric manufacturing and wool. Basque linens now has its own geographical origin label, enabling us to certify that the product is indeed made in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques region. However, the textile industry is now the second most polluting industry in the world. To protect the Basque textile industry, but also to innovate in favor of more sustainable textiles, ESTIA (Ecole Supérieure des Technologies Industrielles Avancées) created the “Biarritz Active Lifestyle Industry” (BALI) Chair in 2017.

The project aimed, over a three-year period, to help transform the challenges faced throughout the entire fashion ecosystem, from textile creation to clothing sales, caused by new lifestyles and consumption patterns, into economic opportunities. The BALI Chair started a second 3-year cycle in 2020 to continue with its aim of becoming a center of information and research on the technological disruptions of the future for fashion and textile companies. 

To help textile and clothing companies innovate, the Chair combines knowledge sharing with open innovation. In particular, a technical training center enables the transmission and adaptation of materials know-how. The Chair has announced partnerships with leading French textile brands such as Eram and Petit Bateau to work on textile eco-design solutions.

The BALI Chair has also enabled the CETIA to come into being. Co-created by ESTIA and CETI (Centre Européen des Textiles Innovants), this project aims to automate the implementation of more circular and responsible processes in the French textile industry.

In terms of the boardsports industry, the EuroSIMA cluster has existed since 2005, bringing together the leading brands on the Basque-Landes coast. The industry accounts for over 4000 jobs in Nouvelle Aquitaine (EuroSIMA), and several hundred companies, including the five world leaders (Boardriders, O’Neill, Billabong, Rip Curl, Volcom). There is also a boardsports business park in Anglet – BAIA Park and its associated Olatu Business Innovation Center, business hotel, incubator and resource center. Several dozen brands are concentrated within a 50 km radius

The circular economy : an opportunity for the basque country textile and sports industries

Numerous Basque companies involved in the textile or sports and boardsports industries are also committed to more thoughtful and less polluting consumption. This is the case, for example, of HOPAAL, which recycles as much waste as possible in order to design “made in France” products while limiting their environmental impact. BASQUE INVEST supported the establishment of Socoa-based Balea Confection, which manufactures parts for HOPAALl and other French customers.

In the boardsports sector, the circular economy is also a priority. Polyola develops more sustainable raw materials for the industry such as resins made from renewable bio-sourced materials. All the more reason to have faith in the future of this major industry in the Basque Country, home of surfing and other water sports.

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