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The global fashion business journal

Oct 1, 20202:28pm

Latin American fashion looks beyond its borders: the local giants, in pursuit of Europe and the USA

Companies such as Colombian Studio F and Cueros Vélez are commencing their expansion outside of Latin America in Spain. They add up to widely expanded groups like Havaianas or Leonissa.

Jan 3, 2020 — 9:00am
T. Ngo Bii / A. Rosales
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The Latin American fashion readies to conquer two of the most pertinent territories for the fashion industry: Europe and the United States. While Studio F and Cueros Vélez prepare their arrival in the European market, others like Leonisa and Cuidado con el Perro  prefer to bet on the United States and some even choose to expand their brand by the hands of giants such as H&M. Latin American industry begins to look beyond its borders. So far very few Latin American groups have dared to expand their presence beyond the South of the American continent. The Colombian Totto and Leonissa or the Brazilian Havaianas have been the exceptions so far. However, more and more companies are jumping into the biggest fashion markets. Why hasn’t Latin fashion worked up until now? According to various experts, it is because until recently there wasn't a requisite for it. The companies that decide to make the leap beyond Central and South America have already taken positions in the territory of large markets, such as Mexico, Colombia or Panama. In addition, the instability that fashion recipient countries such as Chile are going through could also be driving brands to look for changes.

 

One of the challenges they must overcome is, however, the fitting. In the case of accessories or footwear companies, such as Totto or Havaianas, adaptation is not necessary. In clothing brands, companies like Studio F intend to position themselves by taking advantage of their differentiation. Studio F does not plan to adapt its collections to European tastes nor its patterns to European physiognomy, but will introduce its entire collection into the country.

 

The Colombian company Studio F spreads its wings to the Spanish market

After having conquered Latin America with over 430 points of sale in the region, one of the largest fashion retailers in the country plans to settle in the Spanish market in 2020. “We want to move from being a multinational company to a global fashion company," explained to Mds the head Studio F in Spain, Juan Aristizabal. “In Spain, local groups, such as Inditex, are also global: instead of fashion coming from Europe, we want to bring fashion to Europe,” disclosed Juan Aristizabal, in exclusive for MDS last December. The STF Group, one of the largest groups in the area of large fashion distribution, is preparing its entry into Spain with the help of a local executive to run the branch in the country. The company plans to invest between 6, 7 million dollars in three years for its development in the national market, operating with four distribution channels between owned stores, stands in El Corte Inglés, multibrand and ecommerce. STF Group, the owner of the brand, ended its fiscal year 2018 with a revenue of more than 280 million dollars and more than 13 million garments sold.

 

Agua Bendita paves its way across Europe

The arrival of the Colombian company outside of its local market first took place in January 2017 with a store at the El Doral shopping center, located in Miami, United States. Its positioning abroad was strengthened with the opening of its first single-brand Dubai store in September of the same year, until that date the company operated in fifteen multi-brand stores in the Middle East, in sites such as Abu Dhabi, Israel, and Lebanon. The company’s expansion plan is not limited to Europe and the United States, according to the company’s director, Esteban González, the entry into new markets such as Germany, Australia, South Korea, and Japan is also envisioned. Founded in 2003, Agua Bendita, has a presence in more than 54 countries including the United States, Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Uruguay, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic. The Columbian company completed its fiscal 2018 with 25 stores in its local market and 15 abroad.

 

Totto continues its expansion across the world

Totto is a Colombian company, founded in 1987, it specializes in bags and backpacks, it launched its first store in the eighties. I991 Totto took its first leap abroad by opening a store in Costa Rica. The Columbian company is currently present in more than 30 international markets. To make its first invasion into the Old Continent, the company opened an office in Madrid at the end of 2009, with which it began its offensive in Spain, then in 2017 launched its first outlets in the United Kingdom and France. Currently, it equally extends its presence to North Africa and the Middle East. “In order to keep to growing you must constantly look to expand in the market,” signaled Yonatan Bursztyn, founder of the company. Totto has an annual turnover of more than 168 million dollars. The company has a presence in 40 countries ranging from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany or France, to Chile, Ecuador or Guatemala and has over 600 stores worldwide.

 

Havaianas preserves its long strides abroad

The flip flops brand of the Brazilian group Alpargatas, was founded in the 1960s. The Brazilian company started its international expansion in 1998 when it began to be distributed officially in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, and in the United States, among others. Its welcoming in the North American country led to the opening of its first store the Soho district, New York in 2007.  The group’s business centralizes in Madrid throughout the region of Emea (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), in addition to having the headquarters of its Spanish subsidiary there. Havaianas is currently present in 80 international markets and continues to strengthen its presence abroad with the opening of a subsidiary in China and it operates in the Tmall marketplace, owned by Alibaba. Besides, the flip flop company also reinforced its commitment to the online channel in India, where it landed on the ecommerce platform, Myntra. 

 

 

Leonisa strengthens its visibility in the USA and Europe

The women's intimate fashion apparel company established its first international operations in 1965 with the opening of the first production plant in Costas Rica. In 2005, it began its infiltration into the United States, mostly through the Macy’s department store, as well as its store in the Mall of Georgia, in Gwinnett County, in the state of Georgia. In 1989, Leonisa first entered the European market via Spain and then extended to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy. The Columbian enterprise has three stores in Spain, in addition to kiosks in El Corte Inglés, the company distributes its lingerie apparel in the Spanish market from its headquarters in Barcelona.

 

Cuidado con el Perro sustains its paws in the United States

Cuidado con el Perro was founded in 2007, the company took its first international measures in the United States last July with a store resting on an 800-meter square space in the La Plaza shopping center, the city of McAllen, within the state of Texas. In October they inaugurated a new shop in Texas with a surface area of 500 meters square located in Cielo Vista Mall in the city of El Paso. The Mexican company previously operated via its on ecommerce channel in the United States, a selling method that it uses to equally expand its presence in the Canadian market. The company that operated in the fast fashion sector sums a total of 180 points of sale in its local market. It is worth noting that the presence of Latin American fashion in Europe, has not only been carried out through the arrival of important brands in the region, last November the Swedish giant H&M communicated its first collaboration with a Latin American designer, Johanna Ortiz, for the launch of a capsule collection that will be available starting March 2020.

 

Without a doubt, the Latin American market is a key point in the fashion industry, according to BMI Research, an emerging market analysis firm, the Latin American fashion market was worth more than 160 billion dollars in 2016, a figure that does not transcend in comparison to Asia, but it is much larger than the size of the fashion market in the Middle East, so despite the political instability in the sector, it is noticeable how the Latin American market bears strong foundations to continue its expansion.

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