What we learned from exporting fashion to France

The Parisians are famous for their style so for us, a Derbyshire-based fashion house, getting our first taste of export success in such a discerning French marketplace was really exciting. It was the first place we exported to, and many years later, over 1/3rd of our sales are overseas and France is still our biggest export market.

So why are the French, considered amongst the best dressed in the world and makers of some of the finest haute couture, buying British? It’s all in the detail, and here are a few of our top tips for exporting Made in Britain abroad:

Made in Britain quality

Made in Britain should mean just that – you can’t cut corners. Manufacture to the highest quality you can and do it better than the rest to keep your order book full. Demand for British-made is not just because of a ‘made in Britain’ label – it’s all about quality. And this quality is down to the design, experience, skills and craftsmanship that come with making in the UK.

Craftsmanship and skills

At our David Nieper studio, our designers, pattern cutters and seamstresses work under one roof, something that is very rare in the fashion world nowadays. This allows us to pay real attention to detail, ensuring garments fit perfectly. 

Each piece of clothing is then personally hand-signed by the highly skilled, experienced seamstress that made it. Our customer knows, when, where and by whom her garment was made. 

This level of craftsmanship is highly prized, especially abroad, so stay passionate and committed and go the extra mile, not just for your customers but for your staff too. Loyalty has to be earned.

Customer service 

Excellent customer service is just as important abroad. We’ve created ‘local’ customer service teams in each of our top export locations. The right customer service makes all the difference and can make or break your success in any market.

A local approach

Overseas customers might love British products, but it’s still crucial to speak to them in their own language. Make sure your sales and marketing activity fits with the local customs and culture. 

We currently produce catalogues in five languages, delivered direct to private customers across Europe, and have created dedicated foreign language websites for those who prefer to buy online.

Keep investing

UK manufacturing is a long-term game and to continue being the best, you’ve got to invest. Your export future is only ever as bright as your talent so keep investing in skills. 

We are working to expand our overseas customer base and increase activity, but like many others, the fashion manufacturing industry is facing a skills gap. As a result, we’ve already put a number of education initiatives in place to upskill the next generation, to help us reach our export potential.

Exporting Made in Britain will only stay in fashion as long as it stays about quality and skills. So, if you are looking to export – make it quality and make it count.

David Nieper designs and manufactures luxury women’s fashion, knitwear and nightwear. The company was established in 1961 and employs 230 people in Alfreton, Derbyshire.

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