Cpd: the new export mecca?
Eyeing the European export market, a growing number of American companies plan to exhibit at CPD in August, and others are sending executives to Dƒsseldorf to check out the giant apparel fair.
With American apparel sales unpredictable at best, some say it’s the perfect time to branch out into Germany and surrounding countries. And they say that CPD offers a convenient opportunity to network with agents, distributors and buyers.
The number of American participants at the combined CPD and Igedo Dessous fair has crept up gradually, from about three companies at the fall/winter event to 13 for the spring/summer show, said Annette Azan, an account executive at Igedo Co.
Azan says the growth is significant because Igedo, which opened its first American office in Manhattan in January, has tightened up the screening process. Companies are now being evaluated on whether their price points, styling and quality will play in Europe, Azan said.
As European consumers become more price-conscious, the European market is hungry for American bridge fashions, Azan said.
“The American image is so strong all over the world,” Azan said. “The price point is a big issue. Throughout the recession, we’ve been able to fine-tune the quality, design and price point aspects that make American clothes so attractive.”
American exhibitors at August’s fair will include Cynthia Steffe, Rem Garson, Iris Preis and Comfort Zone, with Karen Kane and Liz Claiborne sending executives to look into the possibility of exhibiting in future fairs.
New York-based designer Cynthia Steffe plans to show her better and bridge sportswear line for early spring at CPD for the first time this August, as part of what sales director Janice Youngren calls “an exploratory mission” into the European market.
“The reason that we’re going to Germany is to broaden the distribution of the Cynthia Steffe collection and to strengthen the name in a new market,” Youngren said. “The CPD show is the German market. I’m sure the eastern and northeastern countries will be there also.”
Fashion considerations drove Rem Garson’s decision to show at the fair. The four-year-old New York-based leather sportswear company, with sales just shy of $10 million, is showing its complete 120-piece line at the fair for the first time with the hopes of breaking onto the European scene.
“Just in general, I think the world is a smaller place, and my product makes a lot of sense in Europe,” said owner Marc Garson, who describes his sportswear as affordable jackets, vests, pants, skirts and suits in the spirit of Jil Sander, Prada and Gucci. “I feel that the styling is just very, very understandable for them.”
Right now, we’re actively looking for agents in all the European countries. This show is getting to be known as the number one international show. Maybe it has a lot to do with Germany’s emergence as a fashion leader in Europe….It helps when you have a local market that can support the show.”
Iris Preis hopes to shore up its foothold in Europe by exhibiting at CPD. The 2 1/2-year-old Los Angeles-based contemporary line already exhibits at five international shows a year and does some exporting into Italy, said owner Elan Argil. It specializes in skirts and other looks that combine parts of old garments, such as used Levi’s, with new fabrics.
“Sixty percent of our production is going to exports, we’re always looking for new markets.”
With plans in place to exhibit at the CPD show in February 1997, Liz Claiborne is sending a contingent of executives to check out the August fair.
“Through participation at CPD, which is the most important trade fair for women’s sportswear in Germany, we are hoping to begin to establish lasting partnerships with German retailers,” said Rafael Labrador, president, Liz Claiborne International. “In September, we will be showing an assortment of Liz Claiborne Apparel in a facility on the grounds of Igedo. We plan to exhibit the full range of Liz Claiborne apparel with a major presence at the CPD show in February 1997. This is an integral part of our efforts to insure that when we bring Liz Claiborne to the German market, we will be fully responsive to the needs of both our new customers and our new consumers.”
While Karen Kane isn’t quite ready to jump in, executives plan to check out the fair as a first step in a long-term expansion of their international business
Kathy Hill, vice president of sportswear and Janet Bender, vice president of lifestyle at Karen Kane, plan to spend Aug. 4 at the fair, meeting with agents and distributors and discussing the possibility of exhibiting in the fall show with the organizers, Hill said.
“We’re planning to expand our international business,” she said. “We would like to start with northern Europe, and Germany would be a great market for us. We have been meeting with several companies that specialize in marketing. Because of our size scale, which is very similar, and our price points, we feel Germany would be a good fit.”
“You can have your business grow with the accounts that you have, but…across the board, we’ve pretty much sold every store that sells better in the U.S.,” Hill added.