Norwegian fashion market for Ukrainian brands and producers: where to start?
The Ukrainian textile industry is constantly improving, but there is a lack of information about the possibilities for the Ukrainian brands. Also, the Ukrainian brands need more insights in the Norwegian fashion market, as well as to find out how the Norwegian fashion industry looks like today, in order to be able to get a deeper understanding on how it can be merged with Ukraine fashion industry. It is important for the Norwegian and Ukraine designers to find synergies between their projects regarding marketing and sales, as well as the Norwegian designers, need to get a better understanding of how they can benefit from production in Ukraine.
Norwegian fashion marked is finally growing, with sales and marketing both in Scandinavia, USA, and Germany. The Norwegian stores have shown more interest in Norwegian design from 2014-2015, than ever before. Norwegians are buying products with Norwegian design and they love it.
Norwegian stores have for the past 10 years sold mostly apparel with Danish and Swedish design over Norwegian in the marked. The Scandinavian design is known for being very basic, but done with quality, in a chic way. The fashion stores in Norway are often arranged in a bigger chain, owned by Varner or Voice Group. They are mostly located in shopping malls and they are hard to get on board for a small brand for market entrance. Another part is the “single stores”, owned by the CEO of the store, family or investors. These are the stores that most likely would try something new, they are more flexible in their buying process.
Oslo Runway has been the biggest arena for the Norwegian Fashion Designers to shine on the runway. The venue attracts both international and Norwegian media, as well as celebrities. On this arena, the participants have to be a Norwegian brand, but international guests can host own shows, get PR as well as press coverage from the buzz of the series of events.
Now this season, Oslo Runway will cooperate with “Collective Oslo fashion art festival” to make a bigger arena that merges art with fashion. The businesses of fashion events in Norway are in constant changing, trying to attract big investments. Thus they are trying to make an arena that could merge all the events together.
As a Ukrainian designer, you can benefit greatly from the event. You could:
- Schedule a show or an art exhibition to get the other participants and media representatives to join, since they are already working on the Norwegian fashion market and got to participate in the event.
- Get inspiration from joining the shows and get new contacts.
- Get attention. The streets are filled with photographers from all over the world, from important magazines to small blogs. You can get featured as yourself, or bring a model to add some buzz, and maybe get noticed by Vogue?
Moteuken / Norwegian Fashion Center
Norwegian Fashion Center is the biggest trade fair in Norway used for seasonal buying. The first week of August and the second week of February 80% of the independent stores in Norway are visiting the event and their favorite showrooms. The Norwegian Fashion Center contains over 100 different agencies that get most of their deals within these weeks, while the rest of the time goes to filling up their storages during the season and for marketing.
As a Ukrainian designer, you can benefit greatly from the event. You could:
- Register for participation, since this is definitely the place to be, to get visitors and deals.
- Arrange a pop-up showroom or a stand to present your products.
- Get assistance from the center, that can help you with all the necessary equipment for a successful stand/showroom.
To get successful in Norway with long term sales and logistics you may consider to partner up with an agency. There are two ways to do this: 1. team up with an agency 2. reach out to the stores and do the marketing on your own.
Cooperate with an agency
Let’s say you have managed to sell your brand to different Norwegian stores. What’s next? How to sustain, deliver and get the growth in sales?
Most of the foreign brands that are sold in Norway are represented by an agency. There are different agencies in Norway that take all the work for about 1-10 brands. Most of them specialize in specific products and take a special niche. For instance, an agency can cooperate with three big brands with massive product lines that focus on men’s fashion. Another scenario could be that an agency represents six different small brands for women fashion, that can be sold to the same stores. The agencies do all the sales, as well as customer service, and your success will be theirs. Agencies usually take about 10-17% of the sales in commission, so the customer/brand needs to have a good margin on the products, as well as some volume. The easiest way to find an agent in Norway would be via AGENTURER.NO (in Norwegian).
You can team up early with an agency and let them take all the work. Most of the agencies have been in the market for over 10 years, and have long term relationships with store owners and buyers. It can be easier for them to convince their stores of trying something new.
Do all the work on your own
In Norway with a population of 5 million, it is easy to reach your market through social media. With all the open data and knowledge we have on Norwegian customer behavior today, it’s much easier to get the right crowd for your brand. In 2018, Norwegians shopped between 3-4 Bill Euro, and the biggest part in that is fashion items.
This is a cheaper way if one wants to conquer a foreign market, but the risk and the workload are also higher. A good help to this scenario might be cooperation with influencers and usage of social media campaigns. We see today that influencers have a lot of power, regarding the marketing of fashion in Norway. You can run campaigns through one powerful influencer, or be in contact with 10 smaller influencers for the same price, the choice is yours. A right place to start and get in touch with an influencer would be inzpire.me. The service is not free, but the website offers a 14-days free trial to check out if this is something for you.
How this benefits a Ukrainian designer? It is:
- Easy and cheap to reach your whole marked, and get customers.
- Make a brand more available for Norwegian customers.
- Make a brand more recognized, and up the sales in stores.
Open a store? Hmm, maybe wait a bit
Brands with a bit bigger budgets might consider using the traditional way and open own store. In Norway, we see a small recession for the stores, but not like the rest of Europe and the USA. It is possible to team up with other brands or be a lone wolf. However, estimating the market right now, there are no clear benefits of opening own store in Norway before the brand is well established in the Norwegian marked or doing extraordinary service and exclusivity. Both the labor force and the rent is very expensive in Norway.
Norway has almost no sewing production. Most of the production for Norwegian brands is done in Asia. Norway got very few textile production sites, as well as some knitting wear production, even though now we see that some of the Norwegian big old brands take some of the production home, since the technology of the knitting machines makes it possible to produce apparel with a small team of employees.
Another trend is that the Norwegian brands start moving production to Europe. Norwegians focus more and more on sustainable production and emphasize ethical manufacturing process. To have shorter delivery and better communication are the main factors for the switch.
Ukraine has a lot of textile production, sewing, and knitting factories. The main obstacle for Norwegian brands to use those opportunities is the lack of knowledge about what Ukraine can offer. Ukraine could easily compete with China and Turkey in pricing when Italy, Spain, and France are a little higher in price. This challenge makes the brands stay with their old partners.
About the author: Johannes Marseth, CEO of Norwegian Couture, has been working with fashion for almost 10 years. His brand and store Norwegian Couture produces clothes according to a “made to measure” concept for men who like to stand out with a perfect fit. Norwegian Couture represents something fresh and rebellious but has clear references to the classic, combined with elements from the Norwegian cultural heritage.