Paris pop-up store provides tantalizing glimpse of Ivorian fashion
With a view towards shedding a stronger light on textile, fashion and home-decoration items from Côte d’Ivoire, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Ivorian fashion producers took over a retailing space in Paris’s Rue d’Argout at the end of June. There, producers from the West African country held meetings with companies in the morning and sold their products to enthusiastic Parisians in the afternoon.
Represented in the Paris pop-up store – a shop that is present for a limited time as a promotional exercise – were 10 enterprises selected from participants in ITC’s Trade Support and Regional Integration Programme for the Côte d’Ivoire (PACIR). Since 2013 these enterprises have benefitted from support to improve their approach and access to international market development.
‘Among the surprising items on display we noticed necklaces or a selection of bags made with recycled scrap, sewn and embellished with the most original accessories,’ said Denise Broussan, a buyer for French fashion house Gérard Darel. ‘These are truly unique items. ‘Our eyes were also conquered by a range of children’s clothing in very bright and happy colours, finished to a high level of quality. I was particularly taken by the variety of colours and patterns of the traditional African ‘pagne’ used to decorate all sorts of articles, from earrings to bags, women’s dresses and also as a flamboyant touch of colour on an otherwise plain polo shirt.’
‘The PACIR project has focused on supporting the development of enterprises within priority sectors identified in Côte d’Ivoire’s new National Export Strategy,’ said James Howe, senior adviser of international marketing and branding at ITC. ‘ITC has already introduced Ivorian producers to potential buyers in Central and Southern Africa and prepared them with marketing strategies and support in handling commercial negotiations. We have also assisted the companies in designing branding strategies, in particular communications materials and websites, to better present their products to international buyers.’
Through the European Union-funded PACIR project, ITC has focused its support on the cashew nut, cassava, and fashion and textile sectors. So far it has been the cashew and cassava initiatives that have received the bulk of attention from the government, largely because of growing international demand for these products. The Ivorian fashion and textile sector has strong potential as well, not least because of the renowned creativity and distinctiveBUYER SELLER MEETINGS
Visits to the pop-up store were organized in two phases: professional buyers were invited to the store in the mornings and evenings, while the general public visited the shop and purchased goods on display in the afternoons.
Ethnic motives are bringing a new source of inspiration and colour to clothing and accessories. Many of the professional buyers were quite enthusiastic about the products on offer. Leekei Tang of French accessories maker Beracamy Paris was also attracted to what she saw. ‘Côte d’Ivoire is a source of exuberant colours and patterns, making these highly refined clothing and accessories elegant and easy to wear,’ she said. ‘It’s bright, exciting and full of creativity and imagination.’ For those who did not get a chance to visit the Paris pop-up store, there is now another opportunity to get the latest in Ivorian fashion. At the recently launched website IvoryMall.com, customers from around the world can buy products from the 10 Ivorian companies that excited Parisian shoppers last summer.