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The fashion sector in Japan

As one of the world’s largest fashion markets the Japanese market offers major opportunities for UK companies who can offer the right product.

Market overview

Japanis one of the world’s largest fashion markets. It leads the market in Asia, and other countries in the region look to Japanese trends. Outside the EU, Japan is the second largest export destination after the US for the British fashion industry.

The Japanese fashion market (which includes women’s wear, men’s wear, children’s wear and fashion accessories) is one of the largest markets in the world with retail sales of over ¥9,800 billion in 2011 (approximately £65 billion (£1 = ¥150), up 1.8% from 2010. There are many Japanese stores nationwide; approximately 250 department stores, 500 fashion boutique chains, and many other independent stores.

British fashion is generally well accepted amongst Japanese consumers. Japanese society appreciates the uniqueness of UK design and admires the heritage of British fashion brands. ‘Made in the UK’ is considered by many in Japan as a sign of authenticity.

Key opportunities

  • British heritage brands made in the UK
  • Emerging talent
  • Royal Warrant
  • Links to celebrities and other culture such as music

The UKTI website includes the latest opportunities in the clothing, footwear and fashion sector, giftware, jewellery and tableware sectors plus other export opportunities in Japan

Getting into the market

  • direct sales to retailers: this is often the first step for UK companies entering the market for the first time. UK companies should ensure that their retail prices in Japan are consistent at any store throughout the country. This is important for branding purposes.
  • appoint an agent: this is the best way to present your brand as your agent will be responsible for both sales and public relations
  • distributors / trading houses: again, it is important to ensure that your retail prices are the same and that you know who your retailers are
  • license your brand: production and delivery are taken care of in the market, however be certain to maintain control of your brand image
  • set up an office in Japan: this will provide you with full control over your brand, although a significant investment will be needed to do this

Follow the link to find out more about doing business in Japan

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