The French Haute Couture and Fashion Federation (FHCM) is boosting its resources dedicated to emerging labels, in order to help the latter weather the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
FHCM has introduced a series of initiatives, notably setting up an aid fund and creating a specific digital showroom, in partnership with B2B platform Le New Black. Some 80 emerging labels, from France and elsewhere, orbit around the Paris Fashion Week galaxy. Of these, 60 are closely followed by FHCM, 15 of them via Sphere, the FHCM’s showroom dedicated to young designers.
The aid fund has been set up “as a complement to the initiatives deployed by FHCM with the help of DEFI (France’s Committee for the Development and Promotion of Apparel), and to the activity of other stakeholders in the fashion industry's eco-system,” said FHCM. Other national fashion industry associations around the world have deployed similar measures. On March 27, the British Fashion Council created a crisis fund to aid British designers, and on April 14, the Italian Fashion Chamber (CNMI) set up a fund to help emerging Italian labels.
“The aid fund will be activated following a funding round,” said Pascal Morand, executive president of FHCM, speaking to FashionNetwork.com. The resources will then be allocated following a painstaking selection process. “There will be a call for projects. The applications need to be very precise in financial terms, and will first be examined by a steering committee, which will make recommendations, then by an executive committee consisting of FHCM and financial institution directors, who will decide whom the grants will be allocated to, the same way a bank would operate,” said Morand.
The FHCM’s other signature project is to transform the Sphère showroom, usually staged at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo during the Fashion Weeks, into a digital showroom in partnership with B2B platform Le New Black. The eight emerging labels which have been picked to take part in Sphère's June session will be able to showcase their collections for free in a dedicated virtual environment.
“Also, Le New Black’s platform will be open at preferential rates to other emerging labels interested in joining a virtual showroom,” said Morand. He added that these labels would also be able to take part in the alternative initiative scheduled by FHCM in June, in place of the Paris Fashion Week Men. FHCM is still busy developing this project, which is “focused on creativity, communication and branding,” and will disclose more details about it in the next few weeks.
The introduction of lockdown measures, in France like elsewhere, has led to fashion store closures and to the cancellation of orders placed with the weaker brands. FHCM, which regularly supports emerging labels, has taken action to help them, providing bespoke support to facilitate their access to the measures introduced by the French government, from postponement of national insurance contribution payments to staff furloughs.
FHCM has provided practical help, for example assisting labels in drawing up applications for extra funds to manage their cash-flow situation, and to access state-backed loans.
In a press release, FHCM stated that “emerging labels are bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 crisis, which is endangering the economic fabric of the country. They find themselves in a delicate situation, having to weather the storm, deal with working capital shortages, anticipate the structural changes which are occurring increasingly fast, and transform the way they work.”
At the same time, FHCM is staging seminars on operational challenges like finance and cash-flow management, digitalisation and innovation, and labour, tax and commercial law, together with some of its professional partners, like RSM and Fabernovel. FHCM has also forged closer links with the French Fashion Institute (IFM), so that emerging labels can benefit from the masterclasses and educational programmes set up by IFM during the crisis, like the Labels Solidaire support platform.