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Quality kids' wear from China
- report from FIMI 2013, Valencia

 Photo: Lines for 'dressing up'.
 Lines for "dressing up".
As far as children's wear is concerned, said Francisco Algás, Managing Director of Spanish producer and brand holder Star Textil, the Chinese mainland has become both a producer and consumer in almost equal measures.

Speaking at children's and babies fashion fair, FIMI 2013, in Valencia, he said his firm, which owns the Spanish children's brand Boboli, had maintained an active presence in Hong Kong in order to deal with two-way trade on the Mainland.

The Asia-Pacific region is, in fact, becoming more familiar to Spanish brand retailers, and Algás said the company is operating in Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines.

Photo: Boboli dress. 
Boboli dress. 
Kids Gallery, another Spanish manufacturer of children's and babies' clothing under the brands Bimbalina and Wooloo Moollo, indicated that it exports 60% of its production, much of it centred on quality Chinese mainland goods.

Alida Garcia, Design and Production Manager for Kids Gallery, explained the company focused its production on the Mainland, but using third parties in other countries in its increasingly international supply chain.

Growing consumer demand in Asia was also an important new development said Garcia, with high quality kids' goods being increasingly in demand.

The production situation has changed radically, said José Luis Vallés, Director General of Kids Gallery. "Today 'made in China' is a guarantee of quality due to the high level of technology they have achieved, adapting their products to international norms."

Photo: Garcia: quality goods in demand. Photo: Kids' Gallery brand.
Garcia: quality goods in demand. Kids Gallery brand.

"Vintage" trends

In connection with the global spring-summer collections, the trends for Spanish children's fashion are inspired from "vintage" styles, including in black and white, with contemporary motifs combined with pastel touches.

Photo: Vintage styles on display. Photo: Pastel touches.
Vintage styles on display. Pastel touches.

The trend is for "dressing up" but in clothes which are adaptable for many uses both in play and more formal occasions.

There was also a return for standard jeans, but with metal trim.

 Photo: Products aimed at newborns.
 Products aimed at newborns.
Some producers - such as Boboli - decidedly played up their baby garment ranges, believing that the current crisis affecting Eurozone countries would have less effect on sales aimed at babies.

In the field of footwear - and confirming the trend already registered in past years - ornaments made with Swarovski crystals were present in a large number of lines for children and babies.

On the other hand, the structure of shoes responds increasingly to the philosophy of adapting them to the foot of the child as compared to the idea of training the foot to the shoe.

An example was Cuquito, a Spain-based firm specialising in shoes for babies (sized 16 to 20). The company exhibited different lines with ornaments from Swarovski and patent leather, including faux reptile skins.

Photo: Shoes better structured. Photo: Ornamentation was everywhere.
Shoes better structured. Ornamentation was everywhere.

Gioseppo of Spain also opted for Swarovski stones in its line of leather footwear for children and babies, even though the brand is better known for its wet weather boots.

Photo: Requena: counters in China. 
Requena: counters in China. 
Sales Director of Gioseppo Luis Requena, said the company is looking at opening a series of counters in stores throughout China, in collaboration with a group from Shanghai.

This operation forms part of the company's expansion policy, he said, which entails expanding its chains in Spain, Portugal and Middle East over the next two years, with fifty more points of sale in France, Italy and some Middle Eastern countries, as well as in China.

Lea Lelo, a Spanish brand with a good deal of style inspiration from Italy is also looking at the China market for growth.

The company is a manufacturer of mid-to-high range footwear for babies starting to walk, offering sandals, shoes, boots, booties and casual footwear.

 Photo: Mazzarino: keeping focus.
 Mazzarino: keeping focus.
Director General Susana Mazzarino, explained that China is a very interesting market and is in her plans although she's currently more focused in keeping business secure in the EU.

Last July, Spanish children's wear producers showed their interest in the Chinese mainland market by investing in a pavilion at the Shanghai Children-Baby-Maternity Products Expo (CBME), a benchmark fair in the field of products for children.

Some companies at FIMI stressed increasing business with China-based firms.

Amadeo Folqués, Managing Director of footwear designer Cuquito explained that some of its lines of footwear were manufactured there. "They are sold in large stores and for which we have to adjust to very tight pricing."

Folqués said a Hong Kong company introduced Cuquito to the Chinese mainland as part of an ongoing phase of expansion out of Europe.

The possibility of starting a "green" line for kids is another option. Folqués said: "we have studied the possibility of using vegetable leathers and similar materials but we know, in general, customers are looking for the best price and differentiation must come from displaying attractive articles at affordable prices."

Photo: Folqués: introduction to the Mainland through Hong Kong. Photo: Booties and clothes for newborns.
Folqués: introduction to the Mainland through Hong Kong. Booties and clothes for newborns.

In the footwear display, Lea Lelo presented a collection of boots for teenagers (sized between 28 to 41) in leather with oxide applications and hand painted or in US Western style.

Despite its limited size, reflecting the economic crisis affecting Spain, FIMI from 25 to 27 January had quite satisfactory returns, based on exhibitors' comments.

"Expectations have been exceeded and I'm pleasantly surprised by the success of this edition," said Alfonso Moreno, Representative of French fashion house Zadig & Voltaire.

Increasing exports

Photo: Prada look for kids.
 
Prada look for kids. 
Over the past two years, annual sales of Spanish children's fashion increased by 50% compared to 2010 - one of the few sectors to advance - while exports advanced 38% over the same time span.

As to non-EU countries, Mexico is Spain's fifth largest export market followed by Russia and the US.

Spanish companies have been approaching markets in the Middle East, in particular Lebanon, the UAE and Israel.

The average price for children and baby clothing is between Euros10 and Euros12 per unit, rising to Euros20 in physical outlets. Prices of T-shirts are currently at about Euros8 and parkas at Euros25.

Regarding babies' footwear, the unit price is about Euros9, for those at the crawling stage between Euros12 and Euros13. Children's shoes and booties are priced at between Euros25 and Euros30.

from special correspondents José María Alarcón and
Isabel Herrero, Valencia

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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