Lithuanian linen found popularity even among selective Japanese
In the Interior Lifestyle exhibition in Tokyo, to which Lithuanian companies were brought by Enterprise Lithuania, Jūratė.eu participated for the first time, though the company is not a newcomer on this market. For nearly 15 years, this Lithuanian company has been exporting dresses, handbags and home textile to Japan.
The Jūratė brand was registered almost 18 years ago. Once the brand was registered, Jūratė Noethen moved to Germany but had no intention to forget her roots: on the contrary, she was burning for making Lithuania known, for introducing the traditions, aesthetics and quality of Lithuanian products to the world.
The Jūratė is based on four main principles: top quality raw material, craft mastery, contemporary functionality and unique time-resistant design.
‘This makes us different from other Lithuanian brands. We choose only top quality linen which is usually imported from France and Belgium. We create our products by hand, we weave linen with leather – these items are the pearls of our collection. At the same time, these items are functional, adapted to modern lifestyle, e.g. we produce casings for computers and tablets, handheld devices’, told Indrė Dargytė, Marketing Director of the company.
From clothes to bedroom textile
Though Jūratė team follows the news in the world of fashion, but the company is not after ‘trends’ – the company designs clothes and things that will stay unique when fashion trends will change. A growing number of clothing models are designed for colder seasons, from thicker linen, which successfully protects against icy wind and cold. According Ms. Dargytė, for many years linen was positioned as a seasonal summer product on the Lithuanian market, but due to its universal properties, thicker fibre, linen is excellently suitable for cold season.
The Jūratė brand belongs to the category of home and lifestyle. The company hast table, bedroom and SPA collections, also a fashion line of clothes, scarves and handbags.
‘It is a consistent conception: our customers wear linen Jūratė clothes, carry handmade handbags and live in the homes full of quality natural textile’, said Ms. Dargytė
Recognised both in Europe and Asia
Jūratė products are available in 25 countries of the world. The main markets are Japan, South Korea, Germany, and France.
‘When we started our business, we did not have faraway development plans, we oriented to the markets that are ‘close to home’: Germany, Belgium, Netherlands. When a Japanese company placed a big order after visiting our exhibition stand in Frankfurt, back in 2003, we sincerely did not except it to be the beginning of the long-standing partnership that turned into the friendship lasting nearly 15 years’, Marketing Director expressed her joy.
During highly successful participation in the Inferior Lifestyle exhibition, the company received about 80 orders. Specific orders were received on the very first day: Japanese ordered handbags, dresses, handmade bathmats. Another big order was received after the exhibition from the very same client, who is already a distributor of Jūratė products. Negotiations on another huge order are being carried out with a furniture and interior design chain of as many as 100 shops in Japan.
At present, Jūratė products are available in Isetan supermarket, in Tokyo and Takashimaya supermarket, in Kyoto. Both supermarkets are supreme category shops in Japan, equivalent to the Harrods in London.
To the Japanese market – armed with great patience
The road of Jūratė to the Japanese market started from exhibitions, but the Marketing Director admits that it required lots of patience and persistence. Being a stable society, Japanese highly appreciate consistency and stability in business relations, therefore even highly estimating a product, they keep observing the company participating in the exhibitions for several years to satisfy themselves that the company is financially stable. According to Ms. Dargytė, it is an expensive process as participation in one exhibition costs approximately EUR 10 000, but there is a number of various programmes and public sector initiatives that offer financial and consulting assistance.
Consumers in Japan understand that a unique high-quality product has its value and they have purchasing power to pay for it.
‘Design and clothing construction for Japanese customers differ from the ones offered to Lithuanians and other Europeans. Japanese have much tinier bone structure, they like certain falls of fabric, lengths, we also include certain oriental elements so that the clothes would feel close to their identity and naturally integrate into the interior design of Japanese home’, told Ms. Dargytė about the concept of Japanese fashion and design.
‘The most realistic way to enter the Japanese market is through distributors and agents who have contacts with shops. Language is an extremely big barrier, so one have to arm oneself with patience to gain good understanding of business clients’ needs’, stated the lady.
Comment of Aivaras Knieža, Head of Enterprise Lithuania Export Department
There are about 2,700 thousand companies in the Lithuanian textile industry with the total turnover of approximately EUR 400 million per years. Lithuanian textile companies export over three quarters of their products. It is interesting to note that the export structure has been slightly changing during the decade – back in 2007, nearly half export was intended for ordered production, while by today this share dropped down to one third. It shows the transit of Lithuanian companies to production and export of higher value added products.
Lithuanian manufacturers have all the resources to position themselves in the world’s markets. The textile industry boasts long-standing and deep-rooted traditions, a wide range of products is offered. Lithuanians are highly receptive to novelties; they make investments into environmental requirements, introduce new technologies, focus special attention to the properties of fabrics, and try to prove the quality of their products with certificates. But they still lack experience and knowledge of brand development – especially of development of brands for foreign markets. Besides, nearly all exports are directed to the EU countries, mainly to Germany, therefore more stories of success like of Jūratė on the other markets of the world are needed.
Global trends show that the fast fashion is slowing down, functional clothes prevail and consumers are more concerned about the quality and function of clothes rather than of their prices. Consumers have also become increasingly interested how the clothes were manufactured: whether observing the environmental requirements, if workers received the just pay. Thus, the winners on the global market will be those who will be able to offer not only unique but also practical, functional clothes and they will manage to achieve that by developing a sustained brand, being socially responsible businesses.
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