Aspiration to build Vietnamese brands: fashion pioneer

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The Vietnamese fashion market has seen more international brands such as H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo. There are currently more than 200 foreign fashion brands from mid-range to high-end that have official stores in Vietnam.

Aspiration to build Vietnamese brands: fashion pioneer

“I’m burning to create Vietnamese branded products, made by Vietnamese people,” said Cao Tien Thanh, Chairman of MELYA Fashion Joint Stock Company.

Joining the fashion industry two years ago, Thanh says it pained him to see Vietnam mainly outsourcing for foreign brands, even though its design ability and skills are not inferior to foreign firms.

Many domestic fashion businesses are willing to import fashion products from China, and then only attach the brand name to these products before selling them to customers.

For this young entrepreneur, this situation is “a pretty big pain” because it doesn’t really bring much added value to the country.

Thanh’s concerns are similar to the assessment made by the Vietnam Industry Research and Consulting Joint Stock Company (VIRAC) in a recent report on the domestic fashion industry.

According to VIRAC, for a long time, many Vietnamese fashion businesses lost their competitive advantage compared to international brands in the home market. The reasons include poor design, and small scale of production. Although there have been many improvements over the years, the activities of Vietnamese fashion enterprises are still mainly outsourcing.

The Vietnamese fashion market has seen more international brands such as H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo. VIRAC said there are currently more than 200 foreign fashion brands from mid-range to high-end that have official stores in Vietnam.

This landing has caused the domestic fashion industry, which has only a small market share, to shrink. Some domestic brands considered to have a foothold in the market such as Viet Tien, Nha Be, An Phuoc, and Garment 10 focus on the segment for office clothing only.

When building the fashion brand MELYA, Cao Tien Thanh wanted Vietnamese fashion products produced in Vietnam for both Vietnamese consumers and export.

But it is an arduous road because mastering design, production, distribution, and sales requires great resources and effort.

“When I chose this path, from the very beginning I saw the difficulties I had to face. Researching the fashion industry, I see that Vietnamese people are very good at skills, technology, and can do processing for famous foreign brands. That means Vietnamese people can completely make products that meet the standards of the US, France, etc. So why don’t we think about producing these products here and then exporting them,” Thanh said.


Aspiration to build Vietnamese brands: fashion pioneer

Another young businessman shared the same opinion about building Vietnamese branded products. He started making leather bags about 3 years ago because he wanted to buy a genuine leather bag that was not too expensive. Le Trung Dung, Chairman of Leka Company, has built the brand himself. Like Thanh, Dung wants to master the stages from design to final products.

“Leather bags are a promising industry. We want to provide affordable high-quality goods to Vietnamese customers. If importing goods from China to sell, that goal is not feasible because I surveyed the Chinese market and found that the price is equal to quality, so the only way is to self-produce good products at low prices,” Dung said.

Leka was chosen to make 2,000 leather briefcases for delegates to the recent National Party Congress.

Changing the way

According to VIRAC, Vietnamese enterprises do processing for many major fashion brands in the world, so the quality of their products is actually not too different compared to products of many foreign brands. However, as they focus on processing and exporting products under foreign brands, the Vietnamese fashion market is still unfamiliar on the world fashion map, even in the region.

Having more Vietnamese brands like those of young entrepreneurs like Cao Tien Thanh and Le Trung Dung will contribute to building a position for Vietnamese fashion brands.

However, the road for entrepreneurs like Thanh and Dung will be arduous. They both realize that when quantity is not enough to meet market coverage, the production cost will be high and the supply chain unsustainable. But they believe that daily efforts will help the position of Vietnamese brands gradually change. Supply chains will be formed, and advanced machinery will be invested in to produce products with the same quality as foreign brands at a lower cost.

The MELYA leader said that in the immediate future, the price of goods made in Vietnam will be higher than that of imported goods because input materials will still be imported. Everything must start from the first step.

“We are determined to cooperate in product distribution only with companies that manufacture in Vietnam. When there is a large quantity of orders, they will invest more in supply, machinery, and labor, leading to the development of the supply chain. That is the path of sustainable development for Vietnam’s fashion industry, as well as for the country,” Thanh said.

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