Independent businesses, unite!

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Faced with the crisis in the textile and independent fashion shops sector, the National Federation of Clothing has decided to react with a specific objective: to unite merchants, manufacturers and brands through collective intelligence. The initiative was therefore to bring all stakeholders together at the national level. Bordeaux Business attended this debate of ideas on fashion and entrepreneurial culture in Bordeaux. Indeed, the FNH has 13 regional trade union chambers. It was therefore important to bring the merchants together on the territory of Bordeaux. The regional delegation New Aquitaine is chaired by Bernadette Hirsch. With her experience as a shopkeeper who started out in the Marais in Paris, Bernadette Hirsch came to settle in girondine soil in 2008. This was an opportunity to extend her entrepreneurial desire at the Bouscat, which she describes as “local Neuilly”. She has been involved in the FNH since 2011 and has also served as a municipal councillor in the trade section of the Bouscat town hall since 2014. By giving the floor to independent traders, the FNH hopes to be a force for proposal for a more sustainable and responsible fashion.

A debate on the crisis sector of the Clothing-Textile

The National Assises of Clothing-Textile were held on May 27, 2019, at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. At 4 p.m., Eric Mertz, Federal President of the FNH, addressed the assembled traders, thanking them for their coming and explaining the urgency of meeting. Faced with large commercial textile chains, and shopping malls that are multiplying, small traders have assets that they struggle to assert. If this fight can take on the look of the David and Goliath myth, independent merchants can turn their shop into an innovative and creative third place. The debate was an opportunity to create a tree of proposals in order to gather the ideas of the traders present.

During the exchanges, solutions to the problems posed were presented to traders who came to exchange and share. A first asset highlighted by the stakeholders was that of the size of the businesses which allows their leaders to be more agile and move the lines much faster than the large chains that are rather inert in the face of change. Faced with large chains that take the time to change when necessary, independent traders can act faster. In addition, in 2019, the consumer has the will to buy local, to have unique pieces, while putting human contact forward through the links and the collective. It is by putting these assets at the heart of their work that independent traders can stand out against the giants of textiles and clothing.

The fashion market, a sector changing at a time of deconsumption

The whole sector, independent traders as well as large chains, wonders about the changes that fashion and textiles are going through. The increased demand on the traceability and quality of products is forcing fashion players to reflect on new consumption patterns. Fast-fashion is losing many followers. So how do we rethink the shops and offer it at a time of de-consumption? Many have thought of creative and original solutions. For example, underwear brand Undiz has decided to halve its presence per square metre in stores. This led to a threefold increase in its turnover. A study by Ipsos and Axis on new shopping trends also shows that consumers are concerned about personalizing the offer and caring for the customer experience. As a result, many businesses are looking to make their shop a place to be valued. This is particularly the case with the concept store, Soho House in Berlin, which welcomes business leaders. The boutique can therefore become an event venue as is the case for La Garçonnière, a unique boutique in Bordeaux and Paris, dedicated to men, which touches on fashion, gastronomy, barbershop, tech decoration and more.

However, the transformation of the textile sector can only be seen in relation to the rise of the second-hand market. Indeed, in recent years, online shopping has been popular with many consumers. By 2025, the second-hand market will have even overtaken the new market. On the other hand, in 2017, 86% of French Internet users reported ordering online, preferring the advantages of e-commerce over a traditional shop. In the same year, French e-commerce generated a turnover of 82 billion euros, out of the 182,000 active merchant sites. In 2017, clothing and fashion sales already accounted for 59% of online sales. These figures are not indifferent when we know the importance of e-commerce. All the more so, because today, everything can be ordered in a few clicks and quickly. This is why independent traders must react to changing consumer habits. The FNH is convinced that physical shops are the future of the sector and independent retailers are meeting the expectations of consumers who are more concerned about their purchases, who want proximity, confidence, while respecting the environment.

While the textile and clothing sector is changing, consumers are at the heart of merchants’ concerns. The need to attract customers persists, while the second-hand and e-commerce market is growing in importance. Today’s merchants must be able to differentiate themselves from the competition of online orders and fast-shopping. It is also not, without forgetting the phenomenon of “click and collect”, allowing to pick up his parcel in the shop, thus opening new perspectives to consumption. What future then, for local merchants?

Sandy Penissard – Justine Angibaud – BORDEAUX Business


Ipsos and Axis study on tomorrow’s stores

Press release-FNH

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