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Style, innovation & equality

With Norwegian fashion on the rise, they also get a great reception in Tokyo and New York

Norwegian Fashion Hub brought a bunch of emerging brands to two of the world’s fashion capitals.

Words: Johan Magnusson

The official cluster for the Norwegian fashion and textile industry has grown from 12 to 52 members since the start in 2014, tells manager Elin Kathrine Saunes.

— We run competence programs and a variety of projects for the industry, all based on a solid strategy based on what the industry needs and what the future holds, she says.

Tell us more about your recent trips to Tokyo and New York together with ten Norwegian fashion and accessories brands.

— Tokyo has been one of several priority markets for a number of the Norwegian fashion brands. This is due to the Japanese market being an important reference market for other international markets, as well as the Japanese having an interest and curiosity for Scandinavian brands. But it is also a complicated market to enter, says Saunes, continuing,

— Tokyo we have worked with through the last four years. We have developed the project throughout the years; this year we had a retail tour for the brands, to increase market understanding and the retail landscape. We had a showroom for four days and we had two receptions. One in collaboration with the Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo, at their residence, which gives an official atmosphere, and one in the showroom which was more consumer oriented. It is not very often we get to get direct feedback from the consumers. The project is mainly about building position for the Norwegian brands, by building their network and market competence.

— In New York we had more of an exploratory project. Where the aim for the brands was to gather valuable market insight to develop their ”American market playbook”. Here we had meetings with a broad spectra of influential people from communication, sales, showrooms and trade shows. The project was built to receive feedback, create relevant networks and learn how the market works.

How was the reception?

— In Tokyo the reception is always very good. We have established the yearly event as something several important actors look forward to, and always bring a mix of brands to make sure we have something new and interesting to explore. In New York the main feedback is that Scandinavian brands are very interesting for the market, but it is a difficult one to enter. It takes a lot of time, capital and footwork. One interesting feedback that came from many of the people we met with was that they actually found it impressing that we did these projects, due to so many brands just trying to enter the market, without understanding what it takes.

And which Norwegian menswear brands do you see have great potential for an international growth?

— We find that there are several that have come up during the last years with an interesting appeal. To mention a few, we have Livid Jeans, Cavour, Fram and Norwegian Rain/T-Michael.

Are you planning for more trips?

— We are working on next year as we speak, so most likely there will be some interesting projects next year as well.