Interest in CBI-supported company at London Muslim Shopping Festival
CBI supports garment manufacturers from Jordan through a training and export coaching project. The project provides training on sourcing fabrics, marketing and planning. It helps manufacturers establish their brand and enter the European market. One manufacturer taking part in the CBI project is Yaseen Abualrous. Together with 3 other Jordanian companies, he provides fabrics and accessories and manufactures clothing via the consortium Hiya. On 26 and 27 March 2022, Hiya presented its clothing collection at the London Muslim Shopping Festival.
Establishing a clothing brand
Yaseen Abualrous joined the CBI Jordan Apparel project in 2019. He explains how he found out about the project, “In 2019, the Dutch embassy in Jordan contacted me and 3 other Jordanian companies and connected us with CBI. Via market research, CBI saw that the demand for modest clothing was growing in Europe. So, it helped us start the collective clothing brand Hiya. Hiya means ‘she’ in Arabic. CBI helped us create the brand name, logo and designs. It also provided us with coaching and helped us set up our website. In doing so, CBI really motivated us to take the next step.”
Launching a collection
After difficulties due to COVID-19, Hiya finally launched its collection in 2022. Yaseen explains, “Due to the pandemic, our collection uses fabrics we had already bought earlier. In terms of design, the preferred styles in Europe are very different compared to Jordan. So, via CBI, we worked with Dutch designer Safae Idrissi. She created some beautiful designs which took into account the needs and preferences of European Muslim women. 3 other manufacturers and I sourced and provided the fabrics. Looking at the collection, I am really pleased with the end result.”
Exhibiting at the London Muslim Shopping Festival
CBI gave Hiya the opportunity to present its collection at the London Muslim Shopping Festival. This trade fair provides a great opportunity to show products to a global audience; it attracts around 20,000 visitors every year. “We had a booth at the trade fair where we presented our collection,” says Yaseen. “We also organised a fashion show. We were surprised at how many people were interested in Hiya. We ran out of brochures in 2 hours! We went to the festival to present the collection, not to sell. But many people were interested and asked about our website. They were also taking photos of the clothes.”
“For the visitors, the trade fair was a great opportunity to visit companies and suppliers, see the products in real life and meet the brand owners face to face. The highlight for me was seeing how much the demand for modest clothing is increasing. is the clothes are also higher quality and more fashionable than ever,” Yaseen exclaims.
The benefits of visiting a trade fair
For Yaseen, the trade fair was a success. He reflects on the benefits of exhibiting at the London Muslim Shopping Festival, “The fashion business is more than fabric, workforce and machines; it is about art, creativity, connection, touch, lifestyle, and so on. So, meeting customers face to face is very important, especially when a brand is new and wants to share ideas and concepts with customers. Physical touch is one of the main elements of fashion products.”
“The trade fair helped us connect with potential European customers. We also got direct feedback from them, which is more difficult to get at online trade fairs. Something that I found, which I did not expect, is that the European market is open to new suppliers and not only to famous international brands. And it is not so difficult; the market welcomes creativity from anywhere. I also noticed that a low price is not a priority for European customers. Customers are looking for new brands rather than famous brands; and they are aware of the environment, sustainability and social responsibility.”
Next steps for Hiya
After its success at the trade fair, Hiya is now preparing to promote its brand locally and internationally. Yaseen explains, “We are preparing to sell online and are working on our website to promote the collection. Besides individual leads from the festival, we are currently following up on 2 leads that are interested in becoming authorised distributors or retailers of our brand. We are in contact with them and we hope we can make a deal with them in the future.”
“We will also continue developing our next collection. The feedback we received from visitors will help us with future designs. The festival also encouraged us to start working in other countries and show our collection to international buyers. We are now very confident in what we offer. We are very grateful that we could take part via the CBI project.”
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