It is true that fashion has a great weight in the Spanish GDP and that, together with tourism and gastronomy, it forms a very powerful trident for selling abroad. But in the fashion market there are two realities that should not be confused. On the one hand, and on one front, is the battle waged by the great fast fashion brands such as Zara, Mango, H&M…
On another front, that of luxury brands. And in another parallel world is the ultra-competitive fight that is being fought by an atomized legion of small brands, designers, e-commerces, bloggers, influencers, distributors… who ‘glue’ for a piece of cake.
According to data from Euratex , the confederation that represents the interests of the European textile and clothing industry, this sector represents 174,100 companies, with a turnover of 162,000 million euros and employs 1.66 million workers. Spain is the sixth country in the Euratex ranking behind Italy, Turkey, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Without forgetting these figures, but without clouding our eyes, for the vast majority of projects that compete in this atomized secondary market, the reality is different.
An ultra-competitive market
As Ernest Duran , from Ingesba , an independent textile distributor, maintains, “new and small entrepreneurs (shops, designers, bloggers…) are facing an ultra-competitive environment, where there is oversupply and more brands, shops, influencers… than a person can assimilate. The consequence of this scenario is that either something new, differential, original is offered, or it is condemned to not last more than six months”.
Duran continues his argument by pointing out that the response to this ultra-competitive environment, “in which the consumer has not yet recovered the consumption capacity of yesteryear and the little that he has recovered has been attracted by the big brands, which offer him what he is looking for when you look for it and where you look for it, we little ones can only dedicate ourselves to creating unique projects, with a unique personality and/or history, with a brutal added value, whether in the form of craftsmanship in the elaboration of the product, personality of the design, treatment human, adaptability of the product or customer service, ethics, brand values, etc.”.
Designers who become entrepreneurs
There is no doubt that having a good product in this market is important, but perhaps knowing how to sell it is even more important. “Many times, small brands dedicate time to production processes that they could outsource to focus on developing strategies that provide added value in the sales process,” underlines Miguel del Val , from Valmat .
“It is true that designers work well on the design part, but not so much on going out to sell. They have many gaps in the area of marketing and e-commerce. Our goal is for these designers to become entrepreneurs and know how to sell their products. We want designers to have a comprehensive concept of the business process”, says Ilyana Mendoza , from Fashionbiz2.0 , a fashion project accelerator.
According to Del Val “there are brands that come out without control or market knowledge. They think that selling is easy and it is not. There are brands with good products that do not sell or that have difficulty doing so because they have not understood how they should position themselves in the market and what channels they should approach. It goes without saying that the product must be good, but you have to know what your public demands and how they buy”.
How to gain a foothold in the fashion market?
For Duran, from Ingesba, “the projects that want to gain a foothold in this competitive environment and endure will be those that are committed to a very specific market segment, whatever it may be, adding value to the client and that really believe in their business approach . The concept of specialization has been going around for years, but, as obvious as it may seem, a large part of the independent stores are not clear about it, and they find themselves sailing without a clear direction, waiting for the magical product or brand that will make them win. money”.
And e-commerce, influencers… encourages the market or atomizes it more? The online factor makes a market more competitive. “If done well, the greats will be stronger. The small ones will be able to compete less with those, but they will be able to do it with the whole world as long as they have a very good differential product. It is an opportunity, if the project is powerful, and a disadvantage, if you do not offer anything different. It atomizes the market more, making the good ones more good and the bad ones, more bad”, highlights Duran.
For Manuel de Timoteo , from The Brubaker , “there is an opportunity to do something different, to look for channels where you can grow in spaces and in shorter times than usual. And that allows the online. The difference is not in the price but in the product, in the history behind a brand, in the team, in the brand’s philosophy, etc.”
From offshoring to relocation
The opposite path to the one that took place in the 80s and 90s in the Spanish industrial sector is taking place, and from which fashion could not be left behind.
In those years, hundreds of companies, driven by cost savings, decided to take their productions to cheaper markets. And they found shelter, mainly, in China. This movement meant the closure and disappearance in Spain of a large number of production centers and jobs. Now (since 2010 or so), many of those companies have gone the other way.
In this relocation process , some have chosen to look for new markets that are more cost-competitive than China, such as Vietnam, Bangladesh, Turkey, the Czech Republic or Portugal, among others.
And others have decided to go back to producing in Spain. The latter have found that many of the industrial structures that existed in Spain have disappeared and they have problems finding new factories adapted to the demands of the fashion market, with smaller print runs and faster delivery times.
New business models
To cover this growing demand, textile production centers are emerging, such as Latitude , with their own collections but which also intends to serve as a tool for those companies that wish to return their productions with sustainability criteria. “We take care of the traceability of clothing so that the consumer feels proud of what he wears. We offer brands more than 500 references of sustainable fabrics”, explain its founders.
There are opportunities in services for the fashion industry, in the development of technological tools for the creation and sale processes, and in platforms for new designers and brands.
As the experts consulted maintain, despite the fact that the textile sector is highly fragmented and ultra-competitive, it is undergoing a renewal process that opens the door to numerous opportunities. For example, in all those services aimed at the fashion industry (brands, designers, intermediaries…) and in the development of tools that help these companies in their creation, development and sale processes. Some real examples of companies that are already offering very interesting proposals are:
Acts as a fashion production department that helps young designers and SMEs to manage the production process, from advice on the design of garments and materials and the development of patterns and prototypes, to production management, coordinating the different processes involved such as cutting, making, printing, dyeing and handling.
Helps retailers and brands to define the price of their products as well as helping them in their international expansion thanks to the data provided by companies and other agents in the sector. It allows you to collect, analyze and view information on more than 100,000 different products.
Develops tools that help speed up and optimize each phase of the product launch process, identify key influencers, maximize brand awareness and increase sales.
Develops technological tools that help in the management of fashion and footwear stores. It owns the Modalia marketplace (www.modalia.com).
Platform that allows influencers to manage their online market, posts and videos.
Sellers ‘n Bloggers
Platform that allows bloggers to tag their photos so that their followers can buy looks or products that they liked without having to browse other websites.
Allows you to connect products for sale with any photo on online media or social networks such as Instagram, offering consumers the direct purchase of the product they want. It has almost five million women’s fashion products from more than 30,000 brands.
has developed a virtual fitting room (JogoRoom), which allows customers to request sizes, colors and complete their look without leaving the fitting room. The smart mirror identifies the garments in the fitting room and shows the sizes and colors available, as well as categorized recommendations. Additional sizes and colors can be ordered from the tester articles and from the recommendations. The clerk receives the requests on the clock.
Connects factories and tanneries from all over the world with the main creatives of the design industry. It brings together a network of trusted suppliers, the latest technologies, and a community of designers and manufacturers to enable global sourcing anytime, anywhere.
is a fashion ‘discoverer’ (seeker). It was born, according to its founders, with two objectives: to facilitate the search for fashion trends on the same site and to give visibility to unique, leading and high-quality Spanish fashion brands and companies. Now, they have more than 6,000 products and with the goal of reaching 20,000 in a few months.
It is a comparator and aggregator of products. Drezzy does not directly sell the products and offers visible in its search engines, but redirects to the online stores of the chosen garments.
This project has become a tool for integrating and customizing crodwfunfing platforms on websites, but initially it helped fashion designers test the commercial viability of their garments before large-scale production.
Businesses that are born on the internet and only sell through that channel, made in Spain, with small print runs, with personalized clothing…
is a luxury menswear brand, designed and manufactured in Spain. It only sells through the Internet, without intermediaries. They realize significant cost savings, allowing them to offer their products at less than half the price of their competitors.
Made in me
Allows users to design exclusive shoes, which are then handcrafted by artisan shoemakers and delivered to their homes.
Tailor made to measure online. It offers a configurator and a 3D designer for garment customization.
Fashion E-commerce where each woman can design or customize her clothes by selecting the different parts that make up the garment and visualizing the final result in a simulator with photographs. Dual-D manufactures to measure and on request, generating the minimum of waste and with almost non-existent stock. Deliver the garments in less than 10 days.
Women’s fashion firm, which uses quality fabrics. Both production and clothing are made in Spain, limiting it to a maximum of ten garments for each design and country. In addition, it offers the possibility of creating your own garments with a favorite print in one of its designs.
Application that learns from the tastes of the users, and proposes clothes and accessories adapted to them. Thanks to its recommendation engine, every time you use Mystilo, it learns about your tastes, your favorite brands, your styles, even your budget, and offers you the best fashion adapted to each one.
The trend of ‘slow fashion’
Compared to Zara’s fast fashion, with ‘use and throw away’ creations, slow fashion gains strength: ecological and responsible fashion.
The Circular Project
It is a physical space specialized in the marketing and dissemination of sustainable and ethical fashion. It is part of what is known as a circular economy, which seeks a fashion whose materials at the end of their life can be integrated back into Nature, through reuse, recycling and optimization.
Ecological and designer clothing firm, made with biocertified cotton and manufactured in workshops located in the provinces of Salamanca and Valladolid.
Offers clothing designs for children, made of Gots certified organic cotton. In addition to chamois, changing mats, t-shirts, dresses, skirts, skinny pants, tights…, it also offers personalized designs for the whole family and pets.
Designs and produces collections in an ethical and respectful way with people and the planet. It designs timeless garments without following trends and is committed to eradicating abuse, exploitation and child labour.
Organic Cotton Colors
For more than 25 years they have been working with 100% organic cotton, without dyes, only with the natural colors of the cotton plant: raw, green and brown. 450 farmers and their families are part of the project. They always get bales of cotton in feather (the farmers keep all the seeds of the crop, to replant or to feed the animals). They do not use irrigation (only rainwater) or insecticides. With all this, they obtain completely pure and biodegradable fabrics.
Green Life Style
Ethical and sustainable fashion store. It distributes fashion from independent designers who create and produce their timeless collections in Europe. They are certified clothing pieces made under sustainability criteria. The clothes they sell are 100% organic with natural fabrics.
Moves to Slow Fashion
Sustainable fashion portal where you can buy online organic clothing and accessories from brands and designers who create under ecological, ethical and proximity criteria.
Platform that gives a second chance to the clothes you don’t wear. It encourages its users to dust off the clothes that they know look good on them, but have hated seeing them in the closet so much. Then, let them be inspired by the trends and possibilities offered by their community of Upcylers. Among all the suggestions, or own designs, you can choose and connect with the fashion maker (designers and seamstresses who customize used clothing to give it a second life) to make the design. Once finished, they take it home.
The Slowear Project
Platform dedicated to communication, dissemination and education in sustainable fashion consumption. They have created the Slowear Guide, which includes brands and initiatives that work from sustainability and respect.
Technology and new materials
Trend in the search for new materials such as hemp or silk and also in the design and development of smart garments.
They design garments by reusing and recycling other products. They manufacture more than 100 fabrics made from recycled materials. Thanks to technology, they transform waste such as fishing nets, plastic bottles, wheels and even coffee grounds into top quality fabrics and, later, into designer garments.
Founded within the Lanzadera program and with the technical support of the AITEX Textile Technological Institute, Sepiia has developed smart shirts: anti-stain, anti-odour, wrinkle-free and that prevent sweat marks.
This US company specializes in designing clothing for people with disabilities.
They have developed the Vestex clothing line for healthcare personnel.
manufactures high-quality, high-performance antimicrobial yarns and fibers for companies serving the healthcare, consumer, home, military and industrial markets.
Specialized in the development and commercialization of intelligent textiles in sectors such as interior design, security, health…