Monday August 22 2011
Several jeans and casual clothing manufacturers based in Kojima, Okayama, are enhancing their finished goods exports. Some have already secured stable clientele such as leading select shops, drawing on their strength as a made in Japan brand, but the real race starts now. The early movers have already secured some clients, but that merely means they have made the first step towards selling abroad, and there are still many challenges to overcome. In addition to the need to continuously launch new products to grab their attention and hold it, such issues as sizing and sales promotions support for the overseas buyers require a deeper understanding of the markets they sell into, and even more proactive selling.
The early movers into the overseas markets were Johnbull co., ltd. and JAPAN BLUE GROUP. From 2010, Domingo co., ltd. and Betty Smith Co., Ltd., as well as jeans OEM manufacturer with their own brand as well, 241 CO., joined in. BIG JOHN CORPORATION commenced exporting in 2011.
Johnbull has continuously exhibited at both TRANOÏ HOMME and TRANOÏ FEMME, but in July 2011, they were not able to reach their export target with only approximately 50 million yen in orders.
Transient accounts between autumn/winter 2010 to autumn/winter 2011 were around 40 to 50. While they do have some stable accounts such as L'ECLAIREUR, AMERICAN RAG CIE, and Lane Crawford, the other accounts are unpredictable in their orders from season to season. From this season, Johnbull has commenced work on its new products earlier and is focusing on an enhanced offer. The challenge is to exceed last year’s performance and to try, once again, to attain the sales goal of 70 million yen in exports.
THE JAPAN BLUE GROUP launched JAPAN BLUE, an exclusive label for exporting, in 2011, and has been concentrating its promotional efforts at such trade shows as PITTI IMMAGINE UOMO in Italy, and capsule in Paris, New York, and Las Vegas. Their clients are mostly in the U.S. or Europe, and exceed 60 accounts already, bringing them one step closer to their target of hitting 100.
The jeans are made of an exclusive 14 oz raw denim procured through COLLECT co., Ltd., the core business of the group. Retail prices are set at €159 to keep the products competitive , and the lengths are created longer so that the longer legged western consumers can still roll up the hem. Since the first orders were shipped in June, Japan Blue is beginning to receive some stock replenishment orders now.
For future sales expansion, Japan Blue believes that it is no different than in Japan where diligent sales efforts and following up on orders is key. The target is to achieve annual export revenues of 100 million yen and the immediate goal for the period ending February 2012 is to achieve ⅓ of that.
Domingo has teamed up with its distributor in Hong Kong to exhibit SPELLBOUND at capsule in Paris. For the period ending in March 2011, Domingo achieved 25 million yen in exports, exceeding their target. In particular, at the January 2011 trade show, Domingo was able to be season-conscious while effectively promoting their core strength in jeans, securing new orders from Russia, Italy and the U.K. They have received such requests from their clients as catalogues and posters that talk about the creative process of the brand and 3L size garments. Domingo will need to decide how best to address such requests.
Some businesses are focusing on expanding in the Chinese market. Betty Smith Co., Ltd. is enhancing their sales through a select shop in Shanghai from 2011 spring for their products featuring Betty Smith.
When selling to mainland China, there are few stores who buy entire ranges, and thus, it is difficult to say that sales are accelerating, but Betty Smith exhibited at the July Hong Kong Fashion Week, following up on the January trade show, and discussions with retailers in Hong Kong are making progress.
Betty Smith has exhibited at Bread & Butter Barcelona in 2009, but they found that after-sales support to the western retailers is a challenge for them, and as such, business relationships did not last long. Therefore, they are focusing on China, which is much closer to Japan geographically and is a growing market. Outside of China, Betty Smith will focus on the made to order jeans sold through the British menswear tailor TIMOTHY EVEREST in London and through London Mitsukoshi.
241 CO., exhibited four brands including its subsidiary’s DELAY by Win & Sons at the July Hong Kong Fashion Week. They received many orders for 1129D & Co, a menswear brand for mature men, with an order for 50 units on the spot. 241 also has an established track record in providing OEM (original equipment manufacturing) services to a Hong Kong based retailer. Going forward, 241 will first find partners in each of the eastern and Asian markets to establish strong footholds for export expansion.
BIG JOHN Co., Ltd. is expanding its sales by exhibiting menswear brand BIG JOHN from January 2011 at capsule in New York, Las Vegas, and Paris, followed by keeping their presence up at capsule in July and August.
BIG JOHN teamed up with Canada’s NAKED & FAMOUS to create co-branded products and has secured a contract with BARNEYS NEW YORK from the 2011 autumn/winter range. The products to be sold are from the flagship range, RARE-JEANS, but the rise has been made longer for the overseas markets. The local retail price will be under $300. BIG JOHN has also produced a range of 13 oz jeans especially for the overseas markets and the target retail price is middle to high. The focus is on first securing accounts with some influential select shops.
The export booth for the JAPAN BLUE GROUP