5 keys to success entering European Fashion Market in 2023

FNAD team
March 21, 2023

The marketplace in Europe is undeniably a significant player in the global fashion industry, with some of the most profitable and evolving markets and renowned high-end brands. It’s no wonder that expanding into Europe is a goal and dream for many brands, but it requires proper preparation to succeed. If you’re looking to enter and sell your apparel in the European retail environment, here is our advice to help you prepare. 

Market Research: Understanding the European Fashion market in 2023

Europe constitutes a significant market size with ~748.8 million citizens across 44 countries (Source: worldometer). Its diverse cultures, climates, and demographic make it a highly desirable marketplace for brands to expand into. Due to its diversity, brands and retailers should thoroughly research the market group(s) within Europe they want to enter. Suppose you have observed one specific country standing out in fashion e-commerce sales. In that case, it can serve as a valuable hint for identifying your customer base and deciding which geographical area to target first in physical retail.

After doing your homework, we always recommend brands visit the cities of the countries they want to enter to grasp a real-time understanding of the market environment. It’s important to note that Europe has unique retail norms and customer behaviours. In the field trip to the target country, it is essential to recognize your competitors and, most importantly, know your customers in Europe. We suggest that brands visit the cities they plan to enter to get real-time of the market environment. For instance, mall culture and department stores reign supreme in North America, while small to medium-sized boutiques and fashion retailers in local neighbourhoods are the norm in Europe. A different strategy to attract shoppers is required, so adjusting your marketing and sales approach is essential with the customer’s shopping experience in mind.

To ensure success, we advise brands to search for a local sales representative or showrooms who can present their brand at current fashion fairs, visit retail stores, and observe what the customer experience is like. This hands-on approach can help you build relationships with key stakeholders and better understand what resonates with European consumers. With the right strategy, you can successfully navigate the North American market and expand your brand’s reach to a whole new audience.


Price Positioning your Fashion Brand

If you’re for example a North American brand looking to expand into Europe, you must know the differences in retail markup. On average, retail markup in Europe is higher than in North America, hovering around 2.7 to 2.8. This means that retail prices tend to be higher in Europe overall.

As a result, brands must be strategic about their pricing when entering the European market. With so many other brands offering similar products, gaining traction with high prices can be challenging, especially if you’ve not yet an established name in the clothing market. To succeed, you’ll need to focus on these two elements:

Product Quality:

  • European fashion consumers have high expectations when it comes to quality and craftsmanship. Therefore, it’s essential to invest in high-quality materials and production methods to ensure your products meet these standards. This will help build your brand’s reputation for quality and attract repeat customers.
  • Furthermore, investing in sustainability and ethical production methods can also be a competitive advantage. Carrying over from 2022, consumers in Europe are increasingly conscious of environmental and social issues, and are willing to pay more for products that align with their values.

Developing a Strong Brand Identity:

  • Define your brand values and mission statement: What does your clothing brand stand for? What are your core values and beliefs? Defining your brand values and mission statement will help you establish a clear direction and purpose for your brand.
  • Develop a unique visual identity: Your brand’s visual identity, including your logo, color scheme, and typography, should be unique and memorable. This will help you stand out from the competition and create a recognizable brand image.
  • Establish a consistent brand voice: Your brand’s voice should be consistent across all communication channels, including your digital marketing platforms such as your website, influencer marketing on social media, and advertising. This will help you establish a cohesive brand image and build trust with consumers.

Ultimately, your growth will depend on various factors, including your product offerings, pricing strategy, and brand positioning. By doing your research, staying adaptable, and focusing on quality and branding, you can set your brand up for success.

Effective Logistics

Regarding fashion logistics in Europe, the trend is towards increased efficiency and speed, focusing on sustainability and reducing environmental impact. Freight transportation modes such as air freight, sea freight, and rail transport are commonly used for fashion logistics in Europe. Each method of transport has its unique advantages and limitations, which logistics companies consider when selecting the most appropriate mode for each shipment.

Concerning fashion logistics services, some standard offerings include warehousing, order fulfillment, customs clearance, tracking and tracing, and returns management. Logistics companies need to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the fashion industry, which is characterized by seasonal fluctuations, unpredictable demand, and rapid changes in fashion trends. 

In conclusion, logistics fashion to Europe involves a complex process of planning, organizing, and executing the movement of fashion goods from the source to the end consumer. To help to find the best and most cost-effective logistics solution for your brand, we suggest our clients contact our partner, Greenway Logistics, which has an international network and boasts a team of experts with years of experience in logistics in multiple countries.

Trade Agreements, Rules, and Regulations

If you’re a fashion brand looking to expand your business into the European Union, it’s crucial to research and understand the trade agreements between your home country and the EU. These agreements can significantly impact your business, so leveraging them is crucial. We recommend researching what Free Trade Agreements the EU has with other countries to see if there are imports/duties you can save on by either fully or partially moving production to a country with an agreement with the EU. 

Additionally, it’s essential to consider the materials you use in your products and your packaging and labelling practices. You should also be aware of any language in your branding that could be considered “greenwashing,” or making false or exaggerated claims about your environmental impact when doing business in the EU and even in the global market. The EU’s “Circular Economy” plan has set an ambitious goal to evolve the current state of the apparel industry and eliminate fast fashion by 2030. This initiative will implement eco-friendly regulations across the entire fashion supply chain, including textile production, packaging, energy consumption, and more.

As a fashion brand, staying up-to-date on these agreements, rules, and plans is crucial as they will impact your business model and operations in the EU and can help you increase your competitiveness in the EU market. 


Prepare to Invest for the Long Run

Expanding your brand across Europe can be a challenging but rewarding endeavour. It’s important to approach it with a long-term mindset, as success may not come overnight. Building brand awareness in a foreign market is a process that requires time and effort. Establishing a brand, especially in a competitive space, takes a lot of patience and persistence. Consistent marketing campaigns and efforts, customer engagement, providing value, and delivering exceptional products or services are critical to building brand awareness and gaining traction. It’s also important to listen and respond to customer feedback and adjust marketing strategies accordingly. By staying committed and putting in the work, brands can gradually build a reputable name in new markets and earn a loyal customer base.

To help guide your expansion efforts, we recommend developing a seamless 3 to 5-year action plan with clear goals and milestones for your annual growth. This plan should outline your brand’s unique value proposition, target audience, marketing strategy, and sales objectives. It’s also important to stay flexible and adaptable, as market conditions, consumer demands, and preferences may shift over time.

Remember that entering a new market requires significant time, resources, and capital investment. But with a well-crafted plan, a commitment to your brand’s vision, and a willingness to learn and adapt, you can build a strong presence in the Europe over the long run and increase your revenue. Suppose you want to level up your fashion business and expand your brand to European markets. In that case, FNAD knows the ins and outs of entering new territories and can help you to connect to the best matching wholesale partner