Workshop on the European Fashion Industries – 13 April 2012, Brussels Published on: 21/03/2012, Last update: 03/05/2012
European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
Rue Belliard, 99 - 1040 Brussels - (Belgium)
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European fashion industry identifies strategies for competitiveness
About 75 representatives of the fashion industries associations, education institutions, companies, designers, and financial institutions met in Brussels on 13th April 2012.
In his opening speech, Director General Daniel Calleja Crespo underlined the importance of the fashion industries to the EU economy and recalled the growth opportunities that exist for them notwithstanding the economic crisis.
The participants then discussed the challenges faced by the fashion industries and identified the following ways to promote sustainable growth and competitiveness:
- While the EU market remains crucial for the European producers, there are growing export opportunities in the emerging markets, such as BRICs.
- While the luxury sector has successfully adapted its business model, retailers are trying to reinvent their approach in the face of fast fashion.
- Fashion designers can overcome barriers to growth by support for cooperating with manufacturers, coaching for better entrepreneurial management as well as assistance for marketing their products to potential investors and clients.
- Access to finance poses a particular challenge because the culture and the language of the fashion industry and the banking sector are worlds apart. In business cases with high growth potential, financing from business angels can be the relevant solution while guarantees can help more typical companies looking for loans.
- A growing number of fashion companies of all sizes reflect upon and act according to corporate social responsibility to generate sustainable growth.
- While the best practices showcased were national or exclusive to a company a more European approach could have a bigger impact.
After conducting a study on the European fashion industries, the European Commission will prepare as a next step a Communication on the competitiveness of the fashion industries.
This document will set out main lines of actions and measures at EU, national and industry level. In addition, the Commission's proposal for the Programme for the Competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs (COSME) includes €87m for design-based consumer goods.
The fashion industries account for 5 million jobs and contribute to 3% of the EU GDP. Fashion industries are considered as the whole value chain starting from the manufacturing of materials, through design and production of a broad range of fashion goods until their sale to final consumers.
Presentations from the workshop which was co-organised by the European Commission and the Employer's Group of the Economic and Social Committee are available below.