Even before the announcement of the new confinement, the organizers of the MIF Expo, on Made in France Fair, had canceled the ninth edition scheduled for November 6 to 8 in Paris, Porte de Versailles. A missed event for the 570 exhibitors of this event which, last year, welcomed 80,000 visitors curious to discover and consume local products. Especially that the pandemic has not ceased to emphasize the limits of the distant import policy in many sectors, including that of textiles and clothing.
Published in mid-September, a study by the IFM-Première Vision chair reported that 63% of French people said they were attentive to where their clothes were made after confinement, that 61% favored made in France and, among 18-34 year olds, that 33% even declared themselves ready to boycott certain products produced abroad… Did these good intentions translate into real blue-white-red purchases? And the local labels, which are often small or medium-sized companies, do they have enough backing to wipe a new closure of non-essential businesses?
A delayed impact
“Will there be presents for Christmas?” worries Alexandre rousseau, the bags co-founder Heating blue, created from scratch in Aveyron since 2009. At the start of containment, we experienced a significant drop in orders, linked to the psychological impact of such a measure and the closure of all stores reselling our models. Then, our site recorded an impressive rebound. In May, we made up for the delay of March and April. Since, online sales, which already represented more than half of our activity, has taken to a higher level. But we are very worried as the end of the year celebrations approach, which are commercially very important: are we going to spoil our loved ones as much and treat ourselves in this strange and unprecedented context? “
Even before the new government measures, many industry observers expected “Breakage at the level of brands in the first quarter of 2021”, after the difficulties already encountered by specialist brands – André, Catimini, Camaïeu, Celio, etc. – which were impacted upon the first closure of their many stores. “The fashion industry is working six to twelve months ahead of schedule, we explain to the French Federation of women’s ready-to-wear. The summer 2020 models having remained on the arms of traders, the latter have revised down their orders for the current season. Thus, some brands will not have enough cash flow to produce the next. “ Unless they are based on a different economic model, which is often the case with labels that have made themselves known via the Internet, preferring to deal directly with consumers and, for some, producing locally well before the pandemic.
The advantages of proximity
“The Covid-19 validated all our initial choices”, is satisfied Julien tuffery, the director of Atelier Tuffery. The founder’s great-grandson, in 2015 he took over this family jeans business based in Florac (Lozère). ” A hundred times, multi-brand stores have wanted to reference us. We have always preferred to address ourselves directly to consumers, via our own sales site., in order to better explain our cut products to them, not to make any concessions on quality nor to explode the final price with the margin of a reseller, he exposes. In recent months, we have never had so many orders and work. And we have already hired seven people. This health crisis has accelerated awareness, the desire for more responsible and local consumption. “
Other pioneering companies such as Le Slip Français, 1083 or Hopaal are not idle either. New brands such as Atelier Hexagone (shirts) or Chevrons (denim), launched in September, were imagined in reaction to the current context. As for the shoemaker Heschung, the renewed interest in his shoes fitted in Alsace could allow him to bounce back: hard impacted by the movement of yellow vests and the strikes of 2019 which had paralyzed city centers, where he has several shops in name clean, he had been placed in receivership at the beginning of the year. Today, he no longer despairs of finding a financial partner.
Added value to the general public
Since the start of the school year, Bleu Forêt socks have opened two new stores in Rennes and Aix-en-Provence, while recording strong growth in their e-commerce. The brand was launched in 1995 by the company Knitting of the Vosges, when Dim stopped sending him any production orders. “Being a local supplier has been an asset since the start of the pandemic, Explain Vincent Marie, the chairman of the management board of this historic mesh manufacture. It is an asset to the general public who have become fully aware of the virtual disappearance of French industry., via the examples of masks or drugs. And, suddenly, it is also an asset with the stores reselling our socks. Unlike most of our competitors, we delivered them without delay at the time of the resumption and, even today, their orders for this fall-winter reach them without having been truncated or canceled because they were impossible to produce for many reasons related to the health crisis. All this because we are a local, autonomous, integrated and healthy SME. “
Gilles Lasbordes, Managing Director of Première Vision Paris, organized at the beginning of September at the Carreau du Temple (Paris IIIe), another show called Made in France, reserved for fashion professionals in search of contractors in France. He too notes a change in mentalities within the profession. “Returning to closer production sites is no longer an approach for luxury or niche brands. It is a choice made by companies from all walks of life. And I don’t believe in opportunistic strategies linked to the times: Reviewing its supply chain brings about such changes, both complex and far-reaching, that an entrepreneur can only envision it over time. “
“The current context pushes to be even better”
As for companies with a head start, they are continuing to invest despite this health crisis with an uncertain outcome. Thus, Atelier Tuffery talks about the construction of a new factory. Tricotage des Vosges has placed an order for additional machines and a customer relationship management (CRM) module to improve its site, while Bleu de Chauffe has just recruited an engineer to refine its supply chain of raw materials in the area. ‘Hexagon.
“The current context pushes to be even better, summarizes Alexandre Rousseau. Every day, we receive messages from Internet users who congratulate us on our functioning, the safeguarding of the craft industry, our territorial anchoring … We feel a benevolence, a lasting change. We also receive fewer comments on our selling prices, which are not always accessible since our workforce is 100% French… ” Let’s bet that those who adjust the hood of Santa Claus will remember it!