Fashion brands can achieve great things in the export market. And they can rely on the Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin (French Federation of Women’s Ready-to-Wear – FFPAPF) to increase their chances of international success. Anne-Laure Druguet, Director of International Projects at the FFPAPF, tells us about three levers that Fashion brands can take advantage of right now.

Opening up to international markets This isn’t the hardest thing for a fashion brand to do. In fact, it’s a must for solid growth! To expand internationally, French brands can rely on the FFPAPF’s International Department and take advantage of three strategic levers.

Lever 1: Boosting their digital presence to succeed in export

Having a digital presence has become a must for succeeding in export. The FFPAPF offers support in two areas: choosing influencers and increasing visibility.

  • Choosing the best influencers

In 2022, the FFPAPF has supported a dozen brands in their influencing activities on social networks (Instagram, TikTok), with masterclasses and one-on-one coaching, with the support of specialist start-up, Favikon. Specific goals include:

– finding the right influencer (for the market or language in question),
– fostering a good relationship with the influencer,
– evaluating the performance of an influencer, etc.

As part of this initiative –like in many of those discussed below– it’s possible for brands to apply for a DEFI* subsidy, supported by the FFPAPF.

  • Increasing and subsidising the brand’s digital visibility

The FFPAPF also offers a Digital Amplification Plan. This support has two main aims:

– optimising and increasing the visibility of the brand’s B2B or B2C e-commerce site
– participating in activities like online showrooms (e.g., NuOrder).

Lever 2: A network of international partners

It’s impossible to succeed alone! As part of its support, the FFPAPF International Department offers French brands a network of selected partners for Europe, the United States or Asia.

  • Expert partners to develop your brand locally

The International Department plays a key role in facilitating export distribution for brands. It has two main ways of achieving this:

– facilitating relations between the brand and a commercial intermediary (distributor, agent or showroom)
– offering direct access to international buyers and customers (e.g., via trade shows).

Depending on the country, there are several courses of action. For China –which is still a very attractive market despite repeated lockdowns– digital ‘Market Access’ gatherings for presenting collections are organised to foster dialogue with Chinese buyers and partners. These presentations and conversations can lead to representation partnerships in a showroom or exhibition. In both cases, a subsidy can be applied for.

The next Market Access gathering is scheduled for 16-17 February 2023.

  • Effective networks and a trusted ecosystem

One of the key roles of a trade federation is to promote and strengthen networks. On the one hand, these networks are the only way to identify certain pitfalls, and on the other, and they allow for very effective feedback and sharing of experiences. For example, it makes it possible to find out very quickly if a certain agent or buyer in a given market is encountering a particular difficulty or offering a specific opportunity. The network built up by the FFPAPF’s International Department over the years enables it to guide brands in a trusted ecosystem.

For example, because of the complexity and strategic importance of international payments, the FFPAPF has been working in partnership with Webhelp Payment Services for many years. Webhelp Payment Services, which has been the European leader in B2B payments for over 35 years, is offering its skills and tools to fashion brands, particularly in the wholesale market:

expertise and consulting for setting up local establishments in major markets,
– analysis of orders before shipment, as well as payment recommendations (taking into account each customer’s payment history and the payment practices specific to each country),
collection of payments and debt collection management,
collection of major payment methods (direct debit, international transfer, cheque, cash order, draft, bank card, etc.) and of major currencies.

Even more recently, in response to the exchange rate and currency fluctuation risks identified by certain brands, the FFPAPF has expanded its network to include the company IbanFirst. Our family is continuing to grow and consolidate itself around our brands.

Lever 3: Easier access to priority markets

  • Helping brands expand into international markets

Each market has its own opportunities, constraints, and business practices. For French brands, Europe is often the first market to conquer, before considering the Americas and, above all, China.

Europe seems to be an obvious choice but it presents opportunities and risks that must be carefully analysed. For example, Scandinavia is a very promising region but it’s impossible to break into without support. Though somewhat neglected due to Brexit, Britain maintains its strong appetite for French fashion.

In the United States and Asia, the FFPAPF’s International Department directs brands to the most relevant players and trade events. In addition to local trade shows, the FFPAPF has launched its own operations, notably in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. These Mode In France activities generally take the form of multi-brand showrooms.
One example is the very successful event which took place in Seoul in October 2022. At the beginning of 2023, a series of Mode In France events are scheduled in Tokyo (31 January – 2 February), Taipei (4 – 5 February) and Seoul (7-8 February).

  • Providing advice and support on existing assistance mechanisms

Subsidies should not dictate or define a brand’s export strategy. But the FFPAPF can use its experience to orient subsidy applications, such as Chèques Relance Export (trade reboot vouchers), DEFI subsidies, etc., to support a brand’s strategy.

Beyond this, in 2023, the FFPAPF will support the export activities of occasionwear brands

Three markets –Germany, Spain, and Italy– have been selected for this purpose: French brands will receive primarily financial support, through DEFI* subsidies to participate in targeted trade shows.

*DEFI is the French Committee for the Development and Promotion of the Garment Industry.

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