3 questions to . . . Patricia Brafman International Director of the Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin

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Asia represents a golden opportunity for ready-to-wear brands, as long as they understand the specific characteristics of each country. We talk to Patricia Brafman, an international fashion markets analyst, who is organising a business development mission to Vietnam and Singapore in May.

Why are you focusing on Vietnam and Singapore?

Vietnam’s buying power is increasing, and European fashion is popular there, with numerous brands already present in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Vietnamese people aged 20–25 love fashion and spend 46%* of their monthly budget on clothes. Singapore is one of the richest countries in Asia, with a wealthy population prepared to spend significant sums of money on ready-to-wear. French brands such as Anne Fontaine and Léonard have already conquered this market. It represents a key business opportunity and also provides a springboard into the rest of Southeast Asia and Australia. These factors indicate that there is strong potential for French brands to break into these markets, and it is important to act quickly and develop a presence. We are therefore offering ready-to-wear brands keen to canvass new markets the opportunity to meet face to face with retailers, sales reps, importers, department stores and multi-brand stores.

*Source: Vinatex survey, 2009

Is it difficult to conquer Asian markets?

To be successful you need perseverance, an in-depth knowledge of the particular country’s culture, and a reliable partner who understands your product. You can’t approach all Asian countries in the same way. The Japanese market is very different from the Korean or the Chinese markets. The most important thing is to understand each other. You have to forget your own frame of reference and adapt to your partner’s. To sell in Japan you need to take into account Japanese customers’ fastidious attention to detail. Whereas to sell in China you need the patience to deal with a distribution network that is still largely unstructured. The big news right now is that local companies are increasingly showing interest in our brands. For example, at the most recent edition of the Chic Pékin trade show in Beijing (26–29 March 2012), 42 companies exhibited in the FFPAPF’s Paris Forever pavilion, compared with 30 in 2011. Most of the exhibitors came away with genuine leads, impressive orders, and a variety of different contracts including new stores and retail concessions, creative direction contracts for Chinese brands, and contracts for local sales reps. A number of dynamic mid- and high-end brands such as Didier Parakian, Tara Jarmon, Etam, La Fée Marabouté and Morgan are setting a great example and have already developed a strong presence in Asia, particularly in China and Japan.

What are the strongest markets in Asia?

China and Japan are very strong, of course, but Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia are close behind. Some of these countries are booming, with a wealthy class that spends considerable amounts on clothes, and an emerging middle class that is attracted to European fashion and the concept of ‘Made in France’. In general terms French fashion has an excellent international reputation that enables our brands to justify their higher prices.

For more information on the 21–25 May 2012 business development mission to Vietnam and Singapore please contact:

Patricia Brafman

Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin (FFPAPF)

Tel. +33 (0)1 44 94 70 80

pbrafman@pretaporter.com

www.pretaporter.com

Photo: Nicola Gleichauf / Pixelformula