The European apparel sector is really well developed, fast and sophisticated. This market is still full of great opportunities for garments businesses but is also very challenging for garment manufacturers from developing eastern countries. To avoid a failure you need to be well prepared to take a step in this specific market. You also need to match your offer very specifically to a specific segment or niche to achieve success. In this article, we are gonna show you how you can find, make contacts with garments buyers in Europe and develop them.
- 1. Which countries import the most clothing?
- 2. What is trending now in European apparel sector?
- 3. Use the internet to gain knowledge about innovations, materials, fabrics, and brands – where to begin?
- 4. Advertise your business – exhibitions and trade fairs
- 5. Make contacts with trade associations
- 6. Social media activity – let the others see your company
- 7. Stay up to date with international standards in your company and its foreign branches
- 8. Good contact with your buyers is a key to success
1. Which countries import the most clothing?
This is a very first question that you should ask when you try to find buyers for garments. You need a precise plan to find appropriate business contacts that your business can benefit from. Let’s begin with the analysis of the European garments import sector, and clothing import scale per EU country.
5th place on our list belongs to Italy. According to the fresh data gathered by Eurostat, in 2017 Italy imported clothing and footwear in total worth of 17,5 billion €, which was a massive 9% of overall imports of this sector in the entire EU.
In 2017 Spain took 4th place in clothing and footwear import statistics. This beautiful country of southern Europe imported products of apparel sector in total worth of 17,8 billion €, which (similarly to Italy) accounted for 9% of the total import value of this sector last year.
3. United Kingdom
The bronze medalist of clothing and footwear importers in Europe in 2017 is the United Kingdom. Last year British Islands imported goods from garments sector in total worth of great 23,5 billion € which accounted for 12% of this year entire value of clothing and footwear import sector.
Second place in the apparel sector import ranking belongs to the ”fashion capital” – France. The homeland of the great fashion designers and the biggest fashion shows in 2017 imported goods for clothing and footwear sector in total worth of 25,5 billion € which was 13% of this sector entire import value in last year.
A great winner of last year clothing and footwear imports ranking is Germany. This country, located in the center of the European Union imported an unbelievable amount of goods for the apparel sector in 2017. The value of Germany import for this sector was worth of 39,9 billion € which were 20% (⅕) of the total import value of the EU clothing and footwear sector in 2017.
2. What is trending now in European apparel sector?
Next to statistics about importers we need to know about actual fashion trends in the region that interest us. If we don’t do a proper research on this huge it will be very hard to operate on the foreign market. We need to prepare an offer that will suit the specific regions chosen by us. You need to have very special and unique product that will interest the potential customer and is also still in fashion trends. There are some ways to gain this very important knowledge: you can observe the offers of your potential competition, go to industry events, i.e. fashion shows, fashion fairs etc. and present your brand to a wider audience and watch their reactions. You can also search on the internet for some information about fresh trends in specific countries. With this knowledge, it will be much easier to match your offer to the potential customer needs and to acquire success.
3. Use the internet to gain knowledge about innovations, materials, fabrics, and brands – where to begin?
Today, with the power of the internet it’s much easier to find any information you want or need. There is a lot of useful web pages, blogs, info services etc. that gather all the useful things in one place, and most of them are free. With all the information about the apparels market in specific locations, it will be a lot easier to understand local garment buyers needs and wishes, which will lead you to success on the foreign market. Below you can find some of the useful sites that contain information about innovations, fabrics, brands and even the garments business tips.
https://fashionunited.com/ – Fashion United – international fashion news about trends and market.
https://www.just-style.com/ – Just Style – information about sourcing
http://www.fibre2fashion.com/ – Fibre 2 Fashion – information about the market, statistics, trade fairs and an apparel sector b2b platform
These are just examples of great web pages that can help you with your apparel business, you can find more through the internet searching.
4. Advertise your business – exhibitions and trade fairs
There is nothing better than the appearance of your company at trade fairs and exhibitions. It’s a great opportunity to make some business contacts, gather information about the market, show your proposals to a wider audience and even more. And what is great about it: fashion events are very popular in Europe. There are a lot of fashion fairs and exhibitions throughout the entire year which creates a lot of options for your company to come and present your offer. You can search for industry events on the internet – there are some lists that gather all the apparel sector important exhibitions. Below you can find some info about the fashion event around Europe – and some of them are regular events.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid – Spain, Madrid – a great event hosted by Mercedes in Madrid
Pure London – United Kingdom, London – event mainly focused on womenswear and accessories in England
Copenhagen Fashion Week – Denmark, Copenhagen – very big garments sector event
Poznan Fashion Fair – Poland, Poznań – great event, located on the International Trade Fair in Poznań.
These are just some examples of fashion events around Europe, as was said earlier – there a lot of them and you can easily find them by yourself.
You can also look for some events that are focused on a specific industry niche: fabrics, materials, manufacturing, and more. You can find some information about them below:
Premiere Vision Paris – France, Paris – exhibition focused mainly on fabrics and materials
CPM Moscow – Russia, Moscow – big exhibition, focused on manufacturing, trends in fashion, with fashion shows
Panorama – Germany, Berlin – fairs focused on fashion retailers and fashion chain groups in Europe
ISPO – Germany, Munich (also Beijing and Shanghai) – actually the biggest sport fashion fairs in the world.
Besides finding and approaching some industry events you need to well prepare for the presentation of your business. Here we have some tips that can help you when you decide to show your company at fashion fairs:
- If you want to lower costs you can share them with a partner factory that exhibits different products.
- Prepare the new collection for the specific promotional event that you decide to come to that include special fabrics and samples of products.
- Do not bring something that you are not sure of, basic or uncompleted products. You need to show your best line to interest potential buyers.
- Before choosing an event try to collect any information you can find about it, especially costs, location, travel options, how many customers/traders appeared on the last edition etc.
- Hire a European fashion designer to help you create a unique presentation that will be special, eye-catching and interesting for your potential contractors.
- Make a presentation of your targets and invite your existing and potential customers to your booth to show it. You can, for example, show them how many sample orders you got on this specific event or how many new buyers came to your came to your booth to acknowledge your offer. You should also present your plans for the nearest future of your company development and talk about it with your audience.
- Join some of the other presentations organized at the exhibition – they can deliver a lot of useful data and information for your business that you can analyze and use in the future.
5. Make contacts with trade associations
Another opportunity to get in touch with potential garments buyers is to make contacts with specific trade associations. Making this step will make finding customers a lot easier for you. When you decide to get in touch with trade associations make sure that you focus on the countries with the highest demand for the apparel sector.
When you make contacts and get signed in to association you need to remain active in its structures. Collaborate with association management it will be very useful in the long run. Sign up and read association newsletters – usually, they are packed with very useful news and information about the market and more. Keeping good relations with the sector and industry associations in your homeland is also a good idea – this will help you get in touch with European garment buyers. When they visit your country on a sourcing mission they will definitely start searching for contractors there. You can also search for other associations active in the apparel sector on the internet, by using synonyms for fashion keywords, textile, fibres, fabrics and more. It will also be great if you contact buyers country embassy to help with arranging meetings. Make sure that you prepare your request to the embassy well by providing all required and important information because the embassy will not plan anything only on the basis of e-mail request.
With the development of internet and social media, we’ve gained very powerful tools of advertisement for our business. Social media services are very popular all around the world which creates a very good opportunity for your company to present your goods and offer to the bigger audience. It is also a very good channel of communication with your potential customers.
You can get connected easily with buyers by using LinkedIn or Xing – social media sites focused on businesses. Another great platform is, for example, Facebook with its business plans and pages.
There are some useful tips that you can make use of on your company social media profiles:
- There is a great possibility that the brands that you are interested in working with have their profiles too. Follow them so you will get their updates about travel schedules (to exhibitions and fairs for example), new collections and other news.
- If you want to create more traffic on your social media profiles you definitely should create additional profiles on Instagram, Twitter, and more popular platforms, and post your activities on them to gain the interest of people.
- Linking your website on popular blogs can also be good for creating more traffic. And blogs are also a great lecture about new developments and insight, so you can gain double from them: traffic and useful knowledge.
7. Stay up to date with international standards in your company and its foreign branches
Nowadays it’s very important to keep international standards in your firm. You have to be up to date with changing standards, regulations and more if you want to stay in the European and international business. Keeping in step with everything is so important because people and your potential customers will definitely check if your company is trustworthy and reliable.
A lot of buyers check if the company that they want to buy from is up to with:
- Ecological standards (reduction of the carbon footprint and air pollution in the factories)
- Fair Trade certification (confirmation) of your company standards: respecting workers, respecting nature, development of mutually beneficial relations between sellers and buyers, paying producers a fair price for their products which grants fair salaries for them and acceptable income for trade organization and a lot more.
- International standards of work, employees rights and respecting them by employers
Getting certificates from trusted sources will definitely make your business more attractive to potential buyers. They will also confirm that your company is well developing and your employees confirm that their rights and work standards are respected.
8. Good contact with your buyers is a key to success
Good communication with your customers is very important for the successful cooperation with them. The better communication is the better you will understand your customer’s needs which in the effect will allow you to collaborate better. Below you can find some tips that will be useful for you to achieve the best communication with your customers:
- Work together – understand each other.
- Do not promise anything you cannot do or deliver, be honest and realistic.
- Try to be as available as you can, and if you cannot respond in a particular moment, try to do it within 24 hours.
- Communication is a key to solve problems and deliver solutions for them, so if there is any difficulties or complications, contact as fast as possible (delaying always makes matters worse).
- make your relationships with the customer more personal – that will make you more trustworthy.
If you decide to follow these tips, your communication with your customers will be a lot better and mutually beneficent for you and your buyers.