Spanish fashion is emerging very slowly from the shutdown brought on by the economic crisis. The stagnation in domestic consumption has been devastating for small businesses, but the large driving forces of the industry are starting to show some positive figures.
Nonetheless, echoes from the crisis still resonate in sales figures, in which the industry experienced a setback of 15.7 percent in 2009, according to data from the Spanish Textile Board. The primary cause is the frailty of domestic consumption. In textile manufacturing exports, there is an "apparent 9.5 percent recovery, although clothing exports remain stagnant, according to the Centro de Información Textil y de la Confeccin (Cityc) [Center for Information on the Textile and Clothing Industry]. Forecasts for the progress of exports are in keeping with this trend towards a gentle recovery, "which reflect the surmounting of the most acute phase of the crisis and an improvement in competitive conditions in Spain", according to Cityc.
As for trade shows, the latest edition of The Brandery in Barcelona recorded a 57 percent increase in visitors over the summer edition and a 4 percent increase over last winter’s show. Exhibitors who were asked expressed their overall satisfaction with the show. However, the figure of 17,000 visitors anticipated by the organization was not attained. The Feria Internacional de Moda Infantil y Juvenil de Valencia (FIMI), [International Fair of Fashion for Children and Youth], held last June, closed “amidst renewed hope in the industry” according to organizers and, heading into the new show season, shows such as Modacalzado+Iberpiel paint “an optimist picture”. In turn, the latest edition of one of the other important Spanish fairs, the Salón Internacional de Moda de Madrid [Madrid International Fashion Show], wound up with very positive results.
Meanwhile, the profit and loss statements of the big chains indicate growth which is not necessarily being brought on by domestic consumption but which strengthens their businesses nonetheless. Sales by Grupo Inditex were up 13 percent between February 1 and June 7, 2010. Mango will double its number of stores over the next five years from 1,400 to 3,000 and maintains a construction project for a 10,000 m2 outlet. 2010 growth forecasts from the Desigual company show sales of 450 million euros, 50 percent more than the previous fiscal year.
The majority of foreign companies established in Spain maintain their positions, and therefore their confidence in an imminent economic recovery. “We have 26 franchises in Spain, and we are seeking to expand with both new and existing franchisees”, declared Peter Dankaerts, G-Star’s Sales Manager for Spain, Italy and Portugal. “Prospects for growth are good, we believe that we will reach 80 franchises by 2015”, he added. On the other hand, the Irish chain Primark has experienced 17 percent growth so far this year, in contrast to others, such as River Island, which has closed the doors of its store in Barcelona.
Among designers, the crisis “is affecting them like any other industry, some stores have closed and others have opened. Examples of these are Alma Aguilar and Lemoniez in Madrid and Ailanto in Barcelona, which are exquisite showrooms directly run by the designer and with products at an affordable price”, explains Modesto Lomba, the president of Asociación de Creadores de Moda de Españ (Acme) [the Spanish Fashion Designers Association]. Custo Dalmau, the designer, acknowledges that these are not good times. “Of course there is a crisis and Spain is really feeling the impact, but you must keep your priorities straight. I’ve been doing fashion shows in Barcelona for five years, and I’m going to keep doing them”, said the designer.
The situation is even more difficult for new designers such as Zazo&Brull, who maintain that the crisis has brought about "drastic slashing of product prices and the disappearance of the weakest companies". Nonetheless, the brand has altered its strategy, opening its flagship direct point of sale in Barcelona with “more than satisfactory” results and seeking out new international markets.
From our correspondents in Barcelona