Latin American fashion looks beyond its borders: local giants, in pursuit of Europe and the USA


Latin American fashion is preparing to conquer two of the most relevant territories for the fashion industry: Europe and the United States. While Studio F and Cueros Vélez prepare to enter the European market, others like Leonisa and Cuidado con el Perro prefer to bet on the United States and some even choose to extend their brand into the hands of giants like H&M. Latin American industry is beginning to look beyond its borders. Until now, very few Latin American bands have dared to expand their presence beyond the South of the American continent. The Colombians Totto and Leonissa or the Brazilians Havaianas have so far been exceptions. However, more and more companies are branching out into the biggest fashion markets. Why has Latin fashion not worked so far? According to various experts, this is because until recently there was no prerequisite for it. Companies that decide to make the leap beyond Central and South America have already established themselves in the territory of large markets, such as Mexico, Colombia or Panama. In addition, the instability that fashion destination countries like Chile are going through could also push brands to seek changes.

One of the challenges they have to overcome though is adjustment. In the case of accessory or footwear companies, such as Totto or Havaianas, adaptation is not necessary. In clothing brands, companies like Studio F intend to position themselves by taking advantage of their differentiation. Studio F does not plan to adapt its collections to European tastes nor its patterns to European physiognomy, but will introduce its entire collection in the country.

Colombian company Studio F spreads its wings in the Spanish market

After conquering Latin America with more than 430 outlets in the region, one of the country’s largest fashion retailers plans to enter the Spanish market in 2020. “We want to move from being a multinational company to a global fashion company,” the head of Studio F in Spain, Juan Aristizabal, told Mds. “In Spain, local groups, like Inditex, are also global: instead of fashion coming from Europe, we want to bring fashion to Europe”, revealed Juan Aristizabal, in an exclusive for MDS last December. The STF group, one of the largest fashion retail groups, is preparing its entry into Spain with the help of a local executive to run the subsidiary in the country. The company plans to invest between 6.7 million dollars in three years for its development in the national market, operating with four distribution channels between own stores, stands at El Corte Inglés, multi-brands and e-commerce.STF Group, owner of the brand, closed its fiscal year 2018 with a turnover of more than 280 million dollars and more than 13 million garments sold.

Agua Bendita makes its way through Europe

The arrival of the Colombian company outside of its local market first took place in January 2017 with a store in the El Doral shopping center, located in Miami, United States. Its positioning abroad was strengthened with the opening of its first single-brand store in Dubai in September of the same year, until that date the company operated in fifteen multi-brand stores in the Middle East, in sites such as Abu Dhabi, Israel, and Lebanon. The company’s expansion plan is not limited to Europe and the United States, according to company director Esteban González, entering new markets such as Germany, Australia , South Korea and Japan is also being considered. Founded in 2003, Agua Bendita is present in more than 54 countries, including the United States, Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Uruguay, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. The Colombian company closed its 2018 financial year with 25 stores in its local market and 15 abroad.

Totto continues its expansion around the world

Totto is a Colombian company, founded in 1987, specializing in bags and backpacks, it launched its first store in the eighties. 1991 Totto makes its first leap abroad, opening a store in Costa Rica. The Colombian company is currently present in more than 30 international markets. To make its first invasion on the Old Continent, the company opened an office in Madrid at the end of 2009, with which it launched its offensive in Spain, then launched its first points of sale in the United Kingdom and France in 2017. Currently, it is also expanding its presence in North Africa and the Middle East. “To continue to grow, you must constantly seek to expand in the market,” said Yonatan Bursztyn, founder of the company. Totto has annual sales of over $168 million. The company is present in 40 countries ranging from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany or France to Chile, Ecuador or Guatemala and has more than 600 stores around the world.

Havaianas retain long strides abroad

The flip-flop brand of the Brazilian group Alpargatas, was founded in the 1960s. The Brazilian company began its international expansion in 1998 when it began to be officially distributed in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and the States United, among others. Its welcome in the North American country led to the opening of its first store in the Soho district of New York in 2007. The group’s activity is centralized in Madrid throughout the Emea region (Europe, Middle East and Africa), in addition to having the headquarters of its Spanish subsidiary there. Havaianas is currently present in 80 international markets and continues to strengthen its presence abroad with the opening of a subsidiary in China and it operates in the Alibaba-owned Tmall marketplace. Additionally, the rocking company has also boosted its commitment to the online channel in India, where it has landed on the Myntra e-commerce platform.

Leonisa strengthens its visibility in the USA and Europe

The women’s intimate apparel company established its first international operations in 1965 with the opening of the first production facility in Costa Rica. In 2005, he began his infiltration in the United States, mainly through the Macy’s department store, as well as its store in the Mall of Georgia, Gwinnett County, Georgia. In 1989, Leonisa first entered the European market via Spain, then expanded to the UK, Germany, France and Italy. The Colombian company has three stores in Spain, in addition to kiosks in El Corte Inglésthe company distributes its lingerie garments in the Spanish market from its headquarters in Barcelona.

Cuidado con el Perro supports its paws in the United States

Cuidado con el Perro was founded in 2007, the company took its first international steps in the United States last July with a store based on an 800 square meter space in the La Plaza shopping center, the town of McAllen, in the State of Texas. In October, they inaugurated a new store in Texas with an area of ​​500 square meters located in the Cielo Vista shopping center in the city of El Paso. The Mexican company previously operated through its US e-commerce channel, a sales method it uses to expand its presence in the Canadian market as well. The company that operated in the fast fashion sector totals 180 points of sale in its local market. It should be noted that the presence of Latin American fashion in Europe has not only been achieved through the arrival of important brands in the region, last November the Swedish giant H&M announced its first collaboration with a Latin designer -American, Johanna Ortiz, for the launch of a capsule collection which will be available from March 2020.

Undoubtedly, the Latin American market is a key point of the fashion industry, according to BMI Research, an emerging market analysis firm, the Latin American fashion market was worth more than $160 billion in 2016, a figure that does not exceed in comparison with Asia, but it is much larger than the size of the fashion market in the Middle East, so despite the political instability of the sector, we notice how the Latin American market rests on solid foundations for further expansion.


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