Fashion SVP offered a taste of Morocco at its January edition this year with a pavilion dedicated to suppliers from the country.
Among the 100-plus exhibitors at the sourcing trade show, which ran at Olympia London on 29-30 January, were 10 manufacturers from Morocco. It was the first time a group of Moroccan suppliers had exhibited at Fashion SVP, and they aimed to increase business from UK buyers.
Morocco traditionally has had a big partnership with other European countries, but not the UK, said Nadia Rhaouti, who is in charge of textiles, clothing and leather at the Moroccan Investment and Export Development Agency.
“[Moroccan manufacturers] are interested in the UK market, but they don’t know the market, so we were looking for specialised show in which we can display products,” said Rhaouti.
However, with Brexit under way, Morocco’s trade agency wants to strengthen ties with the UK fashion sector so paid for the manufacturers to attend Fashion SVP.
“Because of Brexit, we need to have a position here as a hub of sourcing for the UK market, to use Morocco as a hub to Africa, or to the countries where we have a free trade agreement,” said Rhaouti.
A dedicated pavilion presented a “different view of manufacturing in Morocco”, which offers “variety, quality and the volume, price and delivery flexibility”, said the event organisers.
Fashion SVP managing director Buzz Carter said: “It’s been buzzing. Exhibitors seem to be happy. So far, there has been a really good buyer turnout.
“The high street buyers and brands are obviously a very important part [of the show]. Most of our targets seem to be here: brands such Marks & Spencer, Asos, Primark, Tommy Hilfiger, N Brown Group, Edinburgh Woollen Mill.”
He expected 2,500 delegates to attend across the two days, with over 100 exhibitors – a 15% increase in exhibitors on the last edition.
The show offered six seminars on topics including sustainability, relationships between factories and clients and responsible production, as well as a breakfast briefing on an introduction to Morocco.
Carter said an invitation-only breakfast briefing for buyers and suppliers on Morocco had been well attended: “The breakfast briefing was a great success. It was experimental for us because we haven’t had that sort of buyer supplier interaction before, but it was really well attended, over-subscribed, wonderful presentations.
“We’ll definitely do this again because it seemed to be very popular with the buyers.”
Olivia We, a merchandiser from Chinese manufacturer Chunjie Garments in Hangzhou, praised the exhibition: “There’s a lot of people and also we’ve met someone who does trends, which is interesting for us. Designers, buyers and all sorts. To have an opportunity to gather and talk to lots of different people is amazing.”
A manager from a Moroccan clothing factory which produces womenswear and childrenswear, said: ”It is very promising and we’re probably coming back again.
“Introductions we had at breakfast were good and we met various different customers. Coming to shows, you never know what’s going to happen, but the morning has been good.”
However, some exhibitors said the show was quiet.
Mehdi Saigh, general manager of Maille City, a manufacturer from Morocco that produces mainly polo shirts, T-shirts and sweatshirts, said: “It’s our first time here. It’s interesting to come to the UK and open ourselves up to a new market. However, it is a lot smaller than other shows.”
Sarah Severino, sales manager at Italian swimwear manufacturer AFS International, said: “So far there have been a lot of students and designers – only a few contacts who are interested but we’ll have to see if that will translate into orders.
”But you always learn from people, so I’m always open to discussion. The UK is a different market - we had someone asking for maternity swimwear which we’ve never done, but we can look into doing. So overall it’s positive.”